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4.2 Using complex systems approaches in epidemiologic researchChair: Prof. George Kaplan, USA
O4-2.1 Foresight tackling obesities: future choices
  1. K McPherson
  1. University of Oxford, Oxford, UK


Foresight is a permanent part of the UK Government Office for science led by the Government Chief Scientist. Its purpose is to take a long term look at the prospects for particular issues thought to have impact on society. Obesity was chosen at a time when its growth in prevalence was inexorably rising and attempts to deal with it had failed; targets set by the Dept of Health had routinely been exceeded.

This presentation will review the work of Foresight Obesity project in particular the epidemiological modelling component. This consisted of two parts; Modelling the future trajectory of obesity prevalence, indeed the distribution of BMI by age, sex, ethnicity, class and geographic region from the annual surveys of the Health Survey for England. These predictions could be subject to a range of policy options which affected BMI or business as usual. Given these predictions up to 2050, we built a micro simulation of the UK population with same demographics and the BMI growth predicted. These simulated populations were subjected to the risks of disease associated with BMI and the morbidity, mortality, quality of life and life expectancy registered and the likely NHS costs accrued estimated.

We will describe the methods we used and the results. The role of this kind of modelling in public health policy development will be discussed.

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