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Approximately 380 million children worldwide are estimated to be overweight or obese.In England, approximately one in five children are obese by the time they enter adolescence and excess weight tracks into adulthood.  Being overweight is associated with significant negative consequences for children's physical health, social and emotional well-being, self-esteem, academic performance and health-related quality of life. The economic consequences of excess weight in childhood are less well understood, but limited evidence suggests that it may result in significantly increased costs to health services, other sectors of the economy and to individuals.2 Given finite public resources, it’s important to assess the cost-effectiveness of interventions to prevent or treat obesity. However, one of the challenges in conducting economic evaluations in this area is the paucity of data on the economic consequences of excess weight through various stages of childhood, adolescence and beyond.

This DPhil project would aim to enhance knowledge about the economic consequences of excess weight in childhood and to develop an economic framework for assessing the cost-effectiveness of interventions aimed at its prevention or the alleviation of its effects. The DPhil Project would involve:

  • Conducting a literature review of economic aspects of childhood obesity, which will cover evidence on resource use, costs, health utilities (preference-based health-related quality of life outcomes) and cost-effectiveness of intervention strategies.
  • Primary research on the economic consequences of childhood obesity, based on evidence from QResearch, the UK’s largest anonymised medical research database that includes patient linked primary care and hospital records tracked over the past 25 years.
  • Development of a UK micro-simulation model for body weight in childhood and later health and economic outcomes. The model will be informed by clinical, epidemiological and economic data extracted from the QResearch database, data from external longitudinal and cross-sectional studies and data from the literature. It will ultimately be used as a standardised economic evaluation framework to aid the decisions of health care decision-makers in the UK when allocating resources in this area.

While the overarching areas for study have been identified, there is scope for specific related questions to be identified by the candidate. We would welcome anyone interested to approach us to discuss the project with us.

The candidate will join a team of researchers specialising in health economics, epidemiology and behavioural interventions working collaboratively across the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. We offer a rich interdisciplinary experience, with access to training and professional development activities, such as public engagement, in a happy and scholarly environment. 

References

  1. World Health Organization. Obesity and overweight key facts Geneva, Switzerland 2018. Available from: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight).
  2. Cawley J. The economics of childhood obesity. Health Affairs 2010; 29(3): 364-371.

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