Deakin 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.

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 that there are numerous and varied policies, programs and interventions that need to be implemented to address the problem of obesity. The value for money of these actions should guide decision-making on their implementation.

Our Economics of Obesity stream leader is Dr. Jaithri Ananthapavan.

  • Research Team

    Staff of the Economics of obesity research stream include:

    Stream Lead:
    A/Prof Jaithri Ananthapavan

    Research Fellows:
    Dr Vicki Brown
    Dr Marufa Sultana
    Dr Phuong (Pam) Nguyen
    Michelle Tran

    Associate Research Fellow:
    Mary-Rose Angeles

    PhD Student:
    Moosa Al Subhi
    Nicole Ward
    Atsuko Yamada

    PhD Cotutelle:
    Mohsen Ghaffari Darab

  • 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.

    Contact: Vicki Brown
    Email: victoria.brown@deakin.edu.au 

  • 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 has expertise in economic modelling and has enhanced our ACE-Obesity Policy model to incorporate sodium intake as a dietary risk factor and sedentary behaviour as an independent risk factor for non-communicable diseases.

    Contact: Jaithri Ananthapavan
    Email: jaithri.ananthapavan@deakin.edu.au

  • 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 have published a cost-benefit analysis framework for prevention interventions and are 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.

    Contact: Jaithri Ananthapavan
    Email: jaithri.ananthapavan@deakin.edu.au

  • Burden of disease studies

    Our team is part of the Institute for Health Transformation’s Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE), a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention. A component of this work relates to estimating the cost and disease burden associated with obesity across a range of country contexts.

    Contact: Jaithri Ananthapavan
    Email: jaithri.ananthapavan@deakin.edu.au

  • Feature publications/reports

    Brief examples of our more recent work spanning these areas of research include:

    Trial-based economic evaluations:

    Ananthapavan J, Sacks G, Orellana L, Marshall J, Robinson E, Moodie M, Blake M, Brown A, Carter R, Cameron AJ. (2022) Cost-Benefit and Cost-Utility Analyses to Demonstrate the Potential Value-for-Money of Supermarket Shelf Tags Promoting Healthier Packaged Products in Australia.  Nutrients 14(9):1919  https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14091919

    Modelled/priority setting studies:

    Ananthapavan J, Sacks G, Brown V, Moodie M, Nguyen P, et al. (2020) Priority-setting for obesity prevention—The Assessing Cost-Effectiveness of obesity prevention policies in Australia (ACE-Obesity Policy) study. PLOS ONE 15(6): e0234804. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234804

    Nguyen P, Ananthapavan A, Tan EJ, Crosland P, Bowe SJ, Gao L, Dunstan DW, Moodie M. (2022). Modelling the Potential Health and Economic Benefits of Reducing Population Sitting Time in Australia.  International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity 19(28).

    Methodological research:

    Ananthapavan, J., Moodie, M., Milat, A. et al (2022). A cost–benefit analysis framework for preventive health interventions to aid decision-making in Australian governments. Health Res Policy Sys 19, 147. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12961-021-00796-w

    Brown, V., Moodie, M., Sultana, M. et al. (2022) Core outcome set for early intervention trials to prevent obesity in childhood (COS-EPOCH): Agreement on “what” to measure. Int J Obes 46, 1867–187. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-022-01198-w

    Burden of disease studies/reviews:
    Direct Health-care Cost of Noncommunicable Diseases in Malaysia (2022). Putrajaya, Malaysia: Ministry of Health Malaysia. Available from: https://www.moh.gov.my/index.php/pages/view/1904?mid=648