The substantial health burden attributable to obesity in Australia and globally is well recognised. In addition to the health impact caused by overweight and obesity, there is also a significant economic burden that is borne by all members of society, including individuals, businesses and governments. The complex and systemic nature of the determinants of obesity mean there are numerous and varied policies, programs and interventions that can be implemented to address the problem of obesity; their economics need to be established.
ObesityDeakin Health Economics
The Economics of obesity research stream at Deakin Health Economics undertakes a broad program of research with the aim of providing high quality, policy relevant research evidence related to the economics of obesity.
Trial-based economic evaluations
We collaborate with a range of researchers to ensure that trials have robust, practical and state of the art economic evaluation techniques embedded within the trial protocols. Our evaluations include obesity prevention interventions spanning all life stages (infants, children, youth, adults and whole populations), across a range of traditional and novel settings (schools, workplaces, supermarkets and the broader community).
We also conduct economic evaluations of single interventions not related to clinical trials to estimate the cost-effectiveness of real-world policies and programs.
Priority setting studies and modelled economic evaluations
We have conducted several priority-setting studies where multiple policy relevant obesity prevention interventions are evaluated using consistent methodology in order to inform decision-makers on the economic credentials of various interventions. We use the “Assessing Cost-Effectiveness” (ACE) methodology, which explicitly incorporates not only the cost-effectiveness of the intervention but also other considerations of importance to decision-makers (strength of evidence, equity, acceptability to various stakeholders, feasibility and sustainability) into the evaluation framework.
The team also conducts economic modelling related to estimating the potential benefits of reductions in various preventable risk factors.
Methodological challenges research
Given that the solutions to the obesity epidemic span various sectors (transport, industry, agriculture, trade, education), traditional methodologies related to decision-making in the healthcare sector (using cost-utility analyses) may not adequately capture the credentials of obesity prevention policies. We are currently undertaking research to establish a cost-benefit analysis framework for prevention interventions and looking at ways to value the other health outcomes (not related to obesity, for example improved sleep quality) of obesity prevention interventions. We are also working closely with Australian government decision-makers to better understand how the use of economic evidence in decision-making can be facilitated. Other methodological research has focused on how to quantify the equity impacts of interventions into economic analyses.
Burden of disease studies
Our team is part of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention (GLOBE) based at Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation. A large component of this work relates to estimating the cost and disease burden associated with obesity across a range of country contexts.
Brief examples of our more recent work spanning these areas of research include:
Trial-based economic evaluations:
Magnus A, Cobiac L, Brimblecombe J, Chatfield M, Gunther A, Ferguson M, Moodie M. (2018) The cost-effectiveness of a 20% price discount on fruit, vegetables, diet drinks and water, trialled in remote Australia to improve Indigenous health. PLOS ONE 13(9): e0204005.
Brown, V.; Ananthapavan, J.; Veerman, L.; Sacks, G.; Lal, A.; Peeters, A.; Backholer, K.; Moodie, M. The Potential Cost-Effectiveness and Equity Impacts of Restricting Television Advertising of Unhealthy Food and Beverages to Australian Children. 2018 Nutrients, 10(5): 622.
Modelled/priority setting studies:
Ananthapavan J, Sacks G, Brown V, Moodie M, Nguyen P, Barendregt J, Veerman L, Mantilla Herrera A, Lal A, Peeters A, Carter R. Assessing Cost-Effectiveness of Obesity Prevention Policies in Australia 2018 (ACE-Obesity Policy). Melbourne: Deakin University, 2018.
Burden of disease studies/reviews:
United Nations Interagency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases. The Business Case for Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Control in the Fiji: The Economic Burden, April 2018. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018 (WHO/NMH/NMA/17.55). License CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
Economics of obesity research stream staff
Staff of the Economics of obesity research stream include:
Deakin Health Economics Deputy Director
Alfred Deakin Professor Marj Moodie
Senior Research Fellow
Dr Vicki Brown
Click on each staff member’s name for a full list of outputs related to this stream.