Prioritized changes in health behaviors with effect sizes. Exists?
October 21, 2016 7:10 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for aggregated data/review articles on the estimated positive effects of lifestyle/diet changes based on research that could be used to prioritize such changes by their impact/effect sizes.

I loosely follow health research reported in the media and have been repeatedly struck by how much of the nutrition and health research seems to be focusing on statistically significant but largely marginal effects. While I can appreciate that these can in aggregate accumulate I'd prefer to work my way down a list of healthy changes ordered by effect size.

Does this kind of list with data exist? Even just search term suggestions would be appreciated.
posted by srboisvert to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a paper by David Spiegelhalter (professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University) that considers this question in terms of the "hazard ratio" of certain behaviours and then uses that to estimate a "how much closer to death are you" number from that. There's a table in middle of the paper giving top risks by this metric. Smoking is the top risk factor by a long way.

A lot of his research is about how to communicate risks in intelligible ways that don't distort the underlying statistics so you can probably find some more interesting material by googling for talks/papers by him.
posted by crocomancer at 7:44 AM on October 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

Search term suggestions: If you're searching for scholarly articles (e.g., in PubMed, Google Scholar, or a medical journal database), try "meta-analysis" or "systematic review" combined with a topic of interest, like "weight loss."
posted by xylothek at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's only based on cancer prevention and a few years old but I love this amazing infographic from Cancer Research UK on preventable cancers by risk factor. It's a really helpful antidote to the constant "This one surprising food will give you cancer/cure your cancer" that modern journalism seems obsessed with.
posted by *becca* at 2:57 AM on October 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

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