The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 70% of deaths worldwide, including up to 90% of deaths in the European region, are due to non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs). Most of these diseases share predisposing risk factors such as obesity and low levels of physical fitness resulting from unhealthy lifestyle (including insufficient physical activity, prolonged time spent in sedentary pursuits, poor nutrition, inappropriate sleep duration, cigarette smoking and abusive alcohol consumption).
Notwithstanding major improvements in the treatment of NCDs, primary prevention strategies that target healthy individuals are a more effective solution compared to prevention of adverse outcomes at early stages of the disease or treating a fully developed disease. Additionally, even though biological risk factors usually emerge in adulthood, childhood and adolescents are the ideal period for risk-lowering strategies based on behaviour changes.
Given that 80% of parents of inactive children wrongly consider their children to be sufficiently active, that existing risk calculation tools are used on adults, and that there is very little understanding about the appropriate level of specific behaviours even among health professionals (who are forced to rely on imperfect tools such as BMI), there is a deep need for tools to fight back against NCDs more effectively.
This is where SmartCHANGE comes in: the project's goal is to develop trustworthy, AI-based decision-support tools that will help health professionals and citizens reduce long-term risk of NCDs by accurately assessing the risk of children and teens and promoting optimised risk-lowering strategies.
By engaging users right from the start of the application's development and by applying machine learning to ethical datasets, the project will revolutionise health monitoring and wellness encouragement for youth, as well as preventing their risks of contracting diseases later in life.