Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to measure overall health? A single, simple measure to encapsulate overall health. There are lots of attempts. There are measures of one’s “real age” based on a host of measures, personal and family history and health behaviors. Researchers have spent a lot of effort over the years to capture the concept of overall health. One reason is for what is known as “risk adjustment”. Let’s say you are comparing 5 year survival rates following different treatments for a certain cancer. If you are doing a randomized trial, then if you have enough people in the study, your two groups of people should be pretty similar. If you cannot randomize the patients, then you need to account for differences in the patients. Maybe most of the patients with other illnesses ended up in one of the groups. That group may look bad for reasons unrelated to the treatment – it is merely the bad luck of the draw in which patients they had. Now, this is actually a very complex subject, so I won’t go any further. Suffice to say, sometimes in research we have to figure out ways to measure people’s health risks. That includes finding a way to measure overall health.