Microsimulation modeling in food policy: a scoping review of methodological aspects

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Abstract

Food policies for the prevention and management of diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have been increasingly relying on microsimulation models (MSMs) to assess effectiveness. Given the increased uptake of MSMs, this review aims to provide an overview of the characteristics of MSMs that link diets with NCDs. A comprehensive review was conducted in PubMed and Web of Knowledge. Inclusion criteria were: (i) findings from a MSM, (ii) diets, foods or nutrients as main exposure of interest, (iii) NCDs, such as overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer as disease outcome for impact assessment. This review included information from 33 studies using MSM in analyzing diet and diverse food policies on NCDs. Hereby, most models employed stochastic, discrete-time, dynamic microsimulation techniques to calculate anticipated (cost-)effectiveness of strategies based on food pricing, food reformulation or dietary (lifestyle) interventions. Currently available models differ in the methodology used for quantifying the effect of the dietary changes on disease, and in the method for modelling disease incidence and mortality. However, all studies provided evidence that the models were sufficiently capturing the close-to-reality situation by justifying their choice of model parameters and validating externally their modelled disease incidence and mortality with observed or predicted event data. With the increasing use of various MSMs, between-model comparisons, facilitated by open access models and good reporting practices, would be important for judging model's accuracy, leading to continued improvement in the methodologies for developing and applying MSMs, and subsequently a better understanding of the results by policymakers.

A STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Given the advancement in the application of microsimulation modelling in evaluating food policies and measuring diet-related disease burdens, the present scoping review serves as an exercise to inform future modelling, hereby highlighting the need for transparency in model development, application and dissemination to advance and safeguard accuracy and relevance in modelling efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
JournalAdvances in Nutrition
Volume13
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)621-632
Number of pages12
ISSN2161-8313
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Keywords

  • food policies
  • public health
  • chronic diseases
  • health decision-making
  • microsimulation modeling
  • NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
  • SUGAR-SWEETENED BEVERAGES
  • LIFE-STYLE INTERVENTION
  • COST-EFFECTIVENESS
  • ECONOMIC-EVALUATION
  • HEALTH
  • PREDICTION
  • OBESITY
  • VALIDATION
  • WORKPLACE

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