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Research Urban and Regional Studies Institute PRC

The effect of obesity on past and future variations in mortality levels and trends

Principal researcher

Nikoletta Vidra

Type of research

PhD research within the Future Mortality project funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research


Fanny Janssen (FRW/PRC) and Leo van Wissen (NIDI)


There has been a startling increase in the rates of overweight and obesity lately. W orldwide, obesity prevalence has nearly doubled while in European countries there has been a threefold increase in the last 20 years, so that overweight and obesity are now recognized as a global pandemic. Obesity has major consequences on health as it increases the risk for several diseases like heart disease, type II diabetes and certain type of cancers . Given its adverse consequences on multiple aspects of health, it has emerged as a threat to overall life expectancy now and in the future as it shortens survival and increases premature mortality. The extent of this threat, however, is still uncertain, and estimates of the share of total deaths due to obesity (obesity-attributable mortality) vary widely between countries, sexes, cohorts and according to the methodology used.

This PhD research will focus on the effect of obesity on past and future variations in mortality levels and trends in European countries. Specifically, the first objective is to assess the past and future trends in obesity-attributable mortality and the differences in these trends across countries, sexes, and birth cohorts. The second objective is to assess the effect of obesity-attributable mortality on all-cause mortality variations over time, between countries, sexes and cohorts. This project will constitute a population-level secondary data analysis, in which epidemiological information is included in demographic modeling approaches.

The research will not only give new insights into the determinants behind mortality differentials between and within European countries, but the estimates of obesity-attributable mortality can be used as well as a future source of information for the planning and development of effective public health measures.

For output of the PhD research please visit the Future Mortality project website.

Last modified:19 April 2018 12.33 p.m.