Exploring chronic disease risk factors in Australia

Dr Riaz Uddin is studying the link between various lifestyle-related risk factors and chronic diseases in order to improve future health outcomes.

Dr Uddin is investigating how lifestyle factors such as insufficient physical activity, sedentary behaviour, poor diet, and smoking could influence chronic disease morbidity in adolescents and adults.

Through an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Dr Uddin is exploring the burden of chronic diseases and examining how multiple risk factors may be associated with this burden.

Chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes and mental health conditions are major health issues globally, contributing significantly to poor health and early death. 

Understanding the associations of the various lifestyle-related risk factors with different chronic diseases and the trends over time is critical for improving future health.

As part of this Fellowship, Dr Uddin is analysing date from three international databases – the Global Burden of Disease (GBD), Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC), and UK Biobank.

One of the key aims of Dr Uddin’s current project is to understand the trend of chronic disease burden in the Australian population and use statistical methods and modelling to predict what the future burden would look like.

“Generally, Australians enjoy a good healthcare system and their life expectancy is one of the highest in the world,” Dr Uddin explained.

“But chronic diseases and their underlying risk factors are still a concern. To ensure the health and wellbeing of the Australian population, we need to know how the burden of chronic diseases has evolved over the past decades or so, and how they are likely to change in the future.

“In addition, through identifying clusters of risk factors in adolescents there is potential to design early prevention strategies to reduce the future burden of chronic disease.

“Together this will give us the opportunity to inform pragmatic policy and programs to keep Australians healthy,” Dr Uddin said.