Looking into the Future in Three States with the UCLA Health Forecasting Tool

Using the UCLA Health Forecasting Tool to Support Effective Public Health Practice, Community Interventions, and Policy Decisions

Field of Work: Forecasting the impact of public health policies and programs

Problem Synopsis: Public health researchers often suggest that officials pursue certain policies or programs. However, research often does not reveal the impact of the interventions on specific populations, or the costs of implementing—or not implementing—the measures.

Synopsis of the Work: Researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health analyzed multiple risk factors and policy scenarios to simulate future health outcomes in three states. The researchers examined the impact of curbing obesity on type 2 diabetes in California; expanding the "reach" of the state smoking quitline in Arkansas; and tackling three risk factors in Milwaukee County, Wis., which ranks poorly in state public health rankings.

Key Findings: Among the key findings are the following:

  • In California, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in 2020 does not decline despite interventions that shrink residents' body mass index and boost their physical activity.
  • In Arkansas, expanding the reach of the state smoking quitline has substantial long-term effects on smoking rates and disease-free life-years—years without diabetes, coronary heart disease, or stroke.
  • In Milwaukee County, Wis., expanding residents' access to recreational facilities—and thus their physical activity—produces larger gains in disease-free life-years from 2011 to 2050 than increasing diabetes screening under Medicare or the reach of the state quitline.