The overall objective of the project is to provide to the Belgian policy makers, at the federal, regional and community level, evidence on how a population-based cohort in Belgium could contribute to increase the quality of scientific research in public health in Belgium and to improve the health of the overall Belgium population.
As life expectancy increases in westerns countries, new challenges in the field of public health occur. The number of patients with cancer, stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, and neurologic or psychiatric disorders, such as dementia and depression are increasing dramatically, together with limitations in daily life.
Whereas the quality of clinical care for these conditions has improved enormously, the increase in healthy life years has lagged behind. Healthy ageing does not only mean being free of age-related chronic disease, but it also includes physical and cognitive capability and general feelings of well-being.
At the same time among the younger generations, unhealthy food consumption behavior, the lack of physical activity and other lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption are leading to an increasing prevalence of obesity and a growing number of patients with diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
The determinants of a healthy lifestyle as well as healthy ageing are all interrelated and result from complex interactions between a wide range of environmental exposures, phenotypic characteristics and genomic factors across the lifespan. Large, population-based cohort studies, in which individuals are followed for a defined period during which a variety of variables can be measured, are vital to ensure sufficient statistical power to better understand the role of various environmental factors (social, physical, etc.) and their interaction with complex traits.
These population-based cohorts provide insights in the path to disease or other health outcome, allowing to evaluate markers for early detection of disease, to identify individuals at increased risk for developing (chronic) diseases, to unravel the complex interaction between the environment and genetics and to assess drivers for socioeconomic disparities in health.
The aim of this project is to provide to the Belgian policy makers, at the federal, regional and community level, evidence on how a population-based cohort in Belgium could contribute to increase the quality of scientific research in public health in Belgium, to improve the health of the population and to provide a roadmap with possible scenarios for public health policy in the future.