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Precision Public Health for Obesity

Research project Shifting the focus from group averages to individual variations to better understand the distribution of Body Mass Index over time and across social and geographical contexts.

Obesity is a major public health concern globally, also affecting Sweden. Improved analytical tools for the identification of high-risk groups in vulnerable settings will better inform decision-makers in their design and implementation of intervention strategies to reduce obesity.

Head of project

Masoud Vaezghasemi
Research fellow

Project overview

Project period:

2023-01-01 2025-01-01

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Epidemiology and Global Health

External partners

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University

Research area

Public health and health care science

External funding


Project description

To address the knowledge gap in mean-centric traditional risk factor epidemiology, this project will include variance and individual heterogeneity with average estimates to provide deeper insights into the varying individual, social, and contextual patterning of BMI in Sweden. Thus, our main aims are:

1) To analyse the change in BMI distribution over time and across and within social and demographic groups.

2) To examine variation in BMI among multiple demographic and socioeconomic groups simultaneously.

3) To map geographical variation in BMI over time to help generate evidence-informed and tailor-made targeted actions and policies at a local level.

Overall, the project will help encourage greater precision in evidence used to inform public health policies. Distinct patterning in the magnitude of variation between individuals within a defined population will have important implications for how we assess and interpret the health of populations over time and inform policy for universal versus targeted strategies aimed at improving health. Policies and actions locally and nationally aimed at reducing BMI and related social and contextual inequalities will benefit by targeting the right population at the right place.

External funding

Latest update: 2022-11-09