France launches nationwide public health study

Act-Up healthcare protest. Paris, 2008. [William Hamon/Flickr]

The French government has given the go ahead for a wide study of public health, which will complement the European Health Examination Survey. EURACTIV France reports.

The goal of the year-long study is to provide current statistics on the well-being of French people, in order to redirect public resources towards better-suited public health programmes.

The study, titled ‘Esteban’ (Health study on the Environment, bio-monitoring, physical activity and Nutrition), will be carried out by the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (INVS). It will study over 4,000 adults aged 18-74, and 1,000 children aged 6-17. The participants will be chosen randomly from the French telephone directory, to answer surveys and undergo medical examinations.

Cardiovascular diseases

One of the main goals of the study will be to record the frequency of cardiovascular disease.

“The Esteban study will measure the frequency of arterial hypertension, dyslipidaemia (high concentration of lipids) and obesity in adults aged 18 to 74. Obesity is a major, and avoidable, risk of cardiovascular diseases such as strokes and heart attacks” the INVS told EURACTIV France.

Participants will undergo various medical examinations, and will provide blood, hair and urine samples.

The study will not target a particular section of society, even though the elderly are more prone to cardiovascular diseases. “Tests related to cardiovascular diseases will be done on all participants. Although most of the risks increase with age, it is important to have statistics on the entire population,” stated INVS.

European Health Examination Survey

The study is important at a national level, but will also provide statistics comparable with other European countries.

“From the start, we realised that the international community needed comparative statistics,” the INVS said, explaining that the monitoring of chronic diseases was recommended as part of the European Health Examination Survey project to collect comparable medical statistics in EU member states.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer are by far the leading cause of mortality in the world, representing 60% of all deaths.

Approximately four million people in Europe and 1.5 million people in the EU die of cardiovascular disease each year, according to the European Heart Network (EHN) and the European Society for Cardiology (ESC). The main forms of heart disease are coronary heart disease and stroke.

To reduce the amounts of death from heart diseases, European Union countries agreed to tackle the underlying health determinants behind cardiovascular health in its 2014-2020 health programme.

Esteban is a study led by the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance. It will complement and update knowledge of different areas: environment, nutrition, physical activity and chronic diseases.

  • 2016: Publication of the Esteban study

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