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Approved Research

Healthy lifestyle index and risk of developing multimorbidity in the UK Biobank

Principal Investigator: Dr Thomas Rohan
Approved Research ID: 101241
Approval date: April 18th 2023

Lay summary

Multimorbidity, which is defined and the concomitant presence of two of more long-term health conditions, is rapidly growing and becoming one of the major public health problems worldwide. In the scientific research literature, the list of health conditions included in the definition of multimorbidity varies greatly. Among the different approaches to indicate this condition, the Charlson Comorbidity index, which includes a list of long-term diseases associated with increased short and long-term mortality, has been extensively adopted and validated. Mechanisms associated with the development of multimorbidity are complex and include socioeconomic factors, as well as lifestyle factors; however, population aging is certainly the driving factor beyond the increasing prevalence of multimorbidity. Previous studies have found that an unhealthy lifestyle, characterized by a cluster of behavioral factors including: poor quality diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, inadequate amount of sleep, low level of physical activity, and high body mass index are associated with an increased risk of developing some chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. However, studies that have examined the association of multiple lifestyle behaviors combined into a single index and the risk of developing multimorbidity including a broader number of health conditions have been scarce. We plan to study the association of a healthy lifestyle index combining diet quality, alcohol intake, smoking, physical activity, sleep duration, and body mass index with the risk of developing multimorbidity. Data on the relationship between modifiable lifestyle factors and the risk of developing multimorbidity can provide support to public health approaches to the prevention of this condition. Our proposed study will require approximately 24 months and will include statistical analysis of this association, discussion and interpretation of the results, and preparation of a scientific report for potential publication.