Micro-NCDs - Development and validation of a novel life course microsimulation model linking diet to non-communicable diseases

Last updated on 14-12-2022 by Pierre Daubresse
Project duration:
April 1, 2020
March 31, 2024

In short

The globally rising chronic diseases (NCDs) burden, driven by unhealthy diets, affects especially socioeconomic disadvantaged population subgroups. Improving diets to tackle NCDs burden is high on the agenda of all health organizations. But we are lacking sound methodologies to accurately quantify the drivers of diet-related NCDs risks over the lifetime. Previous models have focused on individual NCDs and only among adults. They did not consider the accumulation of risks throughout the life course, and the impact of the early onset of obesity and diabetes, and their interplay, with cardiovascular or cancer outcomes. This approach underestimates the corresponding health impacts, further overlooking potential differential effects by NCD type and population investigated. The present project builds on substantial prior work to develop, for the first time to our knowledge, a life course obesity-diabetes-CVD-cancer microsimulation model that links diet to NCDs across the life course. The model is developed and validated for Belgium, using representative data and established resources. It is used to quantify diet-related NCDs burdens in Belgium, accounting for population’s heterogeneity in various individual, socio-economic, and geographical layers. 

Project description

The overall aim of this project is to develop and validate a new life course modeling method capable of capturing the contribution of diet to the burden of NCDs. The model is tested in Belgium, and once finalised and validated, is used to accurately quantify the burden of diet-related NCDs (including obesity, diabetes, CVD, and diet-related cancers), at the national and regional levels. This represents an important new achievement in evaluating and addressing these closely interlinked diseases across the lifespan. Also this will constitute a pivotal methodology for further development and application to public health studies across Europe and beyond. We employ robust evidence synthesis methods to incorporate, standardize and validate population-specific inputs and expand the modeling to quantify impacts accounting for relevant population strata including individual, geographical, and socio-economic factors influencing the development of NCDs. 

We will pursue 3 specific objectives: 

  1. Model development: To develop a microsimulation model based on a Belgium representative population of children and adults, where we will formulate the natural history of health states for diet-related NCDs across the life course. 
  2. Model validation: To validate and calibrate the model to ensure consistency between model outputs and observed prevalence of risk factors, disease incidence, and survival in Belgium. We will also incorporate and quantify the impact of uncertainty in all data sources and modeling assumptions. The resulting probabilistic individual state-transition model will be fitted and validated for the Belgian population allowing robust generalizable results across population subgroups. 
  3. Model application and dissemination: To demonstrate the application of the model quantifying the NCD burden associated with dietary habits throughout life in Belgium and facilitate his dissemination and use by stakeholders.

Sciensano's project investigator(s):

Service(s) working on this project


Prof. José Penalvo

Associated Health Topics

QR code

QR code for this page URL