Attributable risk analysis reveals potential healthcare savings from increased consumption of dairy products

James C. Doidge, Leonie Segal, Elena Gospodarevskaya

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    Abstract

    With rising burdens of obesity and chronic disease, the role of diet as a modifiable risk factor is of increasing public health interest. There is a growing body of evidence that low consumption of dairy products is associated with elevated risk of chronic metabolic and cardiovascular disorders. Surveys also suggest that dairy product consumption falls well below recommended targets for much of the population in many countries, including the USA, UK, and Australia. We reviewed the scientific literature on the health effects of dairy product consumption (both positive and negative) and used the best available evidence to estimate the direct healthcare expenditure and burden of disease [disability-adjusted life years (DALY)] attributable to low consumption of dairy products in Australia. We implemented a novel technique for estimating population attributable risk developed for application in nutrition and other areas in which exposure to risk is a continuous variable. We found that in the 2010-2011 financial year, AUD$2.0 billion (USD$2.1 billion, €1.6 billion, or ~1.7% of direct healthcare expenditure) and the loss of 75,012 DALY were attributable to low dairy product consumption. In sensitivity analyses, varying core assumptions yielded corresponding estimates of AUD$1.1-3.8 billion (0.9-3.3%) and 38,299-151,061 DALY lost. The estimated healthcare cost attributable to low dairy product consumption is comparable with total spending on public health in Australia (AUD$2.0 billion in 2009-2010). These findings justify the development and evaluation of cost-effective interventions that use dairy products as a vector for reducing the costs of diet-related disease.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1772-1780
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Nutrition
    Volume142
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2012

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Medicine (miscellaneous)
    • Nutrition and Dietetics

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