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Approved Research

Identification of risk factors for major chronic diseases among older adults

Principal Investigator: Professor Fanfan Zheng
Approved Research ID: 90492
Approval date: June 22nd 2022

Lay summary

The world's population is aging rapidly and dramatically due to improved longevity during the past century. As a result, chronic diseases has become a leading cause of disability and dependency accompany with serious social and economic burdens globally. According to World Population Prospects 2019, 9.1% of the world population was over 65 years old in 2019, and this number will rise to over 15.9% by 2050. Given this substantially increased size of aging population, the prevalence of chronic diseases among older adults will continue increasing across the world. Those diseases do not only affect quality of life, but also bring great burden to family and society and therefore represents a serious public health issue. The etiologies of chronic diseases are complicated and most of them have a relatively long preclinical phase. With substantial attempts and efforts, it is well-accepted that early screening and intervention is the most efficient way to counteract the epidemic of chronic diseases. During the past few years, our research group has focused on the identification of potential risk factors for major chronic diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases and dementia. However, due to the limitation of available data, we are not able to test our hypotheses of associations between many other potential risk factors and chronic diseases among older adults. Therefore, by using data from UK Biobank, we will try to identify risk factors of major chronic diseases among older adults, mainly by longitudinal designs, and try to develop targeted intervention strategies based on the findings. The project is expected to be finished within the next 36 months. The findings of this project will provide evidence for developing efficient strategies in prevention and intervention of chronic diseases among elderly adults, preventing high-risk individuals from developing disease or at least delaying the onset of diseases, and subsequently promoting health situations of the elderly and reducing the social and economic burdens related to those diseases.