Estimating the association between overweight and risk of disease
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of multiple health problems, including several of the major causes of death and disability in the developed world: cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some of the most common cancers.
Exactly how much of a contribution does obesity make to these diseases? As a contribution to the European Union-funded project on modelling the consequences of obesity (along with the consequences of alcohol consumption and tobacco use) known as Dynamo-HIA* the International Association for the Study of Obesity provided a rapid review of the strength of the associations between excess weight and a number of disease outcomes.
These diseases selected for the Dynamo-HIA project were based on two criteria: 1) best evidence of a risk factor-disease relationship for the risk factors examined in the project, i.e. for alcohol consumption, smoking and overweight/obesity, and 2) prevalence of the disease. The effects on diseases not specifically included in Dynamo-HIA could be estimated on the basis for all-cause mortality and all-cause disability. Estimating the association between the risk factor and all-cause disability involved a separate approach and is not included here. The selected disease outcomes identified for the Dynamo-HIA project and presented here are:
• all-cause mortality;
• ischaemic heart disease (IHD);
• diabetes mellitus;
• chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
• cancer of the lung;
• cancer of the breast;
• cancer of the colon and rectum;
• cancer of the mouth and oropharynx;
• cancer of the oesophagus;
• cancer of the endometrium (uterus, womb);
• cancer of the kidney;
• cancer of the gallbladder.
Additional data for further diseases can be added subsequently. For example, based on published literature, diseases which would merit further investigation include:
• metabolic syndrome;
• non-alcoholic fatty liver disease / steatosis;
• cancer of the liver;
• benign prostate hyperplasia;
• cancer of the prostate;
• pulmonary embolism;
• deep vein thrombosis;
• hyperuricaemia / gout;
• reproductive disorders / infertility;
• polycystic ovary syndrome;
• lower back pain;
• psychiatric disorders;
• complications in pregnancy;
• complications in surgery.
* These pages were developed as part of the IASO contribution to the EU-funded project on modelling for health impact assessment, Dynamo-HIA (Dynamic Modelling for Health Impact Assessment) see http://www.dynamo-hia.eu/. The project is funded by the EU Public Health Programme 2003-2008 of the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs (DG SANCO), with co-financing from the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, the Institute of Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the International Obesity task force, the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Haughton Institute in Dublin and the Instituto Tumori in Milan.
This document is the sole responsibility of the authors. The Executive Agency for Health and Consumers and the other funding bodies are not in any way responsible for the use that is made of the information contained herein.