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Approved Research

Associations between lifestyle factors, overall health and disease risk and survival in the UK Biobank

Principal Investigator: Professor John Mathers
Approved Research ID: 69371
Approval date: September 21st 2021

Lay summary

Scientific rationale:

Lifestyle factors including body fatness, diet and exercise affect one's risk of getting chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, and may also be linked to chances of surviving after disease diagnosis. Associations between individual lifestyle factors, for example intake of dietary fibre, and the risk of, and survival from, diseases have been reported in other studies, as well as between scores and indices used to assess how healthy one's lifestyle is. However, it important to understand the performance of these lifestyle scoring systems across different populations and, if required, to modify these to optimise their utility in future studies.


This study aims to investigate relationships between such lifestyle factors, including the application of scoring systems used to assess lifestyle 'healthfulness', and overall health, risk of chronic diseases and survival. We also aim to explore how important each lifestyle factor is with respect to measuring lifestyle 'healthfulness' and whether we can improve the way in which we measure how healthy one's lifestyle is (i.e. scoring systems).

How it will be done:

Over a three year project, we will use data on participant characteristics, lifestyle (e.g. diet, exercise, smoking and body fatness) from the UK Biobank Study. We will assess lifestyle 'healthfulness' for UK Biobank using, for example, existing scoring systems and indices. We will explore, using statistical techniques, whether individual lifestyle factors and measures of lifestyle 'healthfulness' predict the risk of developing diseases such as cancer and, in those who have been diagnosed with disease(s), their chances of survival.

Public Health Impact

The findings from this study could help to guide lifestyle recommendations and public health policies for the general population, and for those suffering from disease(s), to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve length, and quality, of life. By exploring the utility and quality of scoring systems and indices used to measure lifestyle 'healthfulness', this research could provide more accurate tools to be used in future studies worldwide.