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Approved Research

Combined associations of body weight and lifestyle factors with arterial health, cardiovascular events and mortality

Principal Investigator: Professor Luigi Fontana
Approved Research ID: 62594
Approval date: October 6th 2020

Lay summary

Western diets, which typically contain large amounts of animal and energy-dense foods, together with a sedentary lifestyle and smoke, impair vascular health and drive cardio- and cerebro-vascular disease. Research from our team has demonstrated the numerous benefits of lifestyle programmes to improve health, however there are still a number of questions to be answered and the UK Biobank provides a unique opportunity to investigate them.

Some of the benefits of this dataset is its large size (>500,000 adults), its depth analysis of dietary behaviours, and the biggest dataset of objective physical activity. This dietary and physical activity data, along with information on sleep, smoking and alcohol behaviour will be combined to create a Healthy Lifestyle Score, which has previously been done by members of team by using the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study (Veronese et al. 2016). Using this score, we aim to investigate the following questions:

1) What is the relationship between the Healthy Lifestyle Score and arterial health. The reason we want to measure this is because arterial health is one of the first signs that an individual is developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke.

2) How does the Healthy Lifestyle Score predict CVD onset, CVD complications and CVD death. The UK Biobank gives researchers access to individual medical records which means we can measure which lifestyle behaviours have an impact upon CVD onset and death.

3) How does body weight affect the relationship between Healthy Lifestyle Score and CVD. Some research suggests that being overweight or even obese can protect you from some chronic disease and premature mortality. We will be investigating whether taking into account healthy lifestyle behaviours changes this relationship.

4) The impact of diet upon CVD. Dietary behaviour will be explored in more depth as individuals in the UK Biobank study were asked about their diet behaviour 4 times over 1 year. With this data we can explore what the impact of different micro- and macro-nutrients upon CVD risk and death.

Currently, CVD is the largest cause of disease and death worldwide and a lot of energy and money is spent around managing and treating this condition. Data from this project will highlight whether efforts should be directed towards preventative strategies such as encouraging and prescribing healthy lifestyle behaviours. This project will take 2 years.