Updating the ‘Vitality Age’ Calculator

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Background

The Vitality Age calculator gives individuals a snapshot of their overall health. The calculator bases its calculations on lifestyle choices (diet, alcohol consumption, exercise etc.) and clinical factors, such as blood pressure or body-mass index.

Goals

RAND Europe was commissioned by Discovery group of companies, part of Discovery Limited, to update the existing algorithm and underlying data of the calculator in order to improve its accuracy. In particular, the study looked at:

  • the accuracy of existing mortality and disease risk calculators
  • the risk factors that should be included in the updated Vitality Age calculator and how to quantify them, and
  • the best approaches for updating the calculator.

Methodology of the Model

The model collects data from the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD), a large database quantifying modifiable risks of death, disease and disability through systematic reviews of the existing literature. It uses this methodology to estimate the joint risk factor burden for combinations of risks using a set of identified mediation factors.

Updates to the Model

The report presents a more detailed, up-to-date Vitality Age (VA.3) methodology that is more applicable to varying geographical contexts.

The underlying concept remains unchanged – the model still covers behavioural and metabolic risk factors and reflects an individual’s overall health status through a single number. The new model builds on this by expanding the number of input factors used in the analysis and builds on a more comprehensive and consistent data source.

The new model incorporates an age-related, cause-specific mortality rate rather than the purely cause-specific mortality rates used in the previous version. It also considers the impacts of individual health and lifestyle on each identified disease separately, providing more transparency and information on the estimated effects.