Research press release


Scientific Reports

Disease: Does collective behaviour influence obesity prevalence?

肥満や一部のがんなどの非伝染性疾患(NCD)の蔓延の根底にある物理的機序の解析結果を報告する論文が、Scientific Reportsに掲載される。この研究成果は、公衆衛生政策の設計に重要なものとなる可能性がある。


今回、H Makseたちは、統計物理学を用いて、疾患の空間拡散を定量的に調べた。そして、米国疾病予防管理センターのデータを用いて、米国全土における肥満罹患率とがん死亡率の変動に関して、相関とクラスタリングを調べた。こうした非伝染性疾患の蔓延は、二次相転移の臨界点における物理系を想起させるとMakseたちは指摘する。


The physical mechanisms that underlie the spread of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as obesity and some cancers, are analyzed in a study published in Scientific Reports. The research could prove important for the design of health policies.

Obesity prevalence is increasing in many countries but it can be hard to identify the underlying drivers. As the gain of excessive body weight is related to increased calorie intake and inactivity, a key aspect of prevention efforts has been devoted to individuals’ habits, but the prevalence of obesity and other NCDs shows strong spatial clustering, suggesting that the processes governing collective behaviour may also be involved.

Hernan Makse and colleagues use statistical physics to quantitatively study the spatial spreading of disease. Using data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they examine the correlations and clusters of fluctuations in obesity prevalence and cancer mortality rates across the United States. The spread of these NCDs is reminiscent of a physical system at a critical point of second-order phase transition, the authors find.

Additionally, the observed fluctuations of obesity and diabetes are very similar to the activity seen in industries associated with food consumption, such as supermarkets and restaurants, although the authors caution that they cannot establish a causal relationship between obesity prevalence and economic indicators. Further research is needed to determine whether fluctuations in the food economy can impact obesity or whether the food industry reacts to obesity demands.

doi: 10.1038/srep00454

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