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Approved research

Mendelian Randomization to Determine the Attributable Healthcare Cost of Obesity

Principal Investigator: Dr John Schneider
Approved Research ID: 44371
Approval date: January 9th 2019

Lay summary

Observational studies have found an association between obesity and economic burden on patients and health systems, but these results can be biased due to observed external factors such as age, sex, and socioeconomic status and possible unobserved factors. The aim of this project is to determine if there is a causal relationship between obesity and increased healthcare costs, independent of external influencing factors. Our study circumvents the issue of unobserved external factors by using a technique called Mendelian Randomization (MR) which allows the use of obesity-associated genes as a proxy for increased body mass index (BMI). Genes are independent of any confounding factors because they are inherited randomly. We will use this technique to assess the association between genetically-increased risk of obesity and healthcare cost using genetic and general practice data from the UK Biobank, linked with healthcare resource use data from the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database. Our study strives to assess the direct impact of obesity on healthcare costs, which will provide insight into the long-term economic impact of obesity, which is valuable to public health organizations, healthcare payers, and pharmaceutical companies developing drugs to combat obesity.