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ALSPAC

Internal News - 17 October 2007

Major new grant awarded to School for Health

Professor Chris Riddoch from the School for Health is heading a consortium awarded more than £1.1 million by the US Government to examine how exercise and obesity affect the health of local schoolchildren.

The award, from the US National Institutes of Health, is to extend research with the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) - one of the largest studies of childhood health, behaviour and development in the world.

This longitudinal cohort project, also known as 'Children of the 90s', has followed the lives of over 14,000 children born in the Avon area in 1991 and 1992.

The funding will extend Professor Riddoch’s research into physical activity and obesity, enabling him to monitor changes in levels of activity and obesity risk factors as the children approach the age of 15.

“The children in the project are reaching a critical stage in their personal development, so it has been important for us to win this funding to continue our work,” said Professor Riddoch.

“There are all sorts of behavioural and biological changes going on at this age, so the award gives us the chance to study the role of physical activity in their everyday lives.”

The research will involve analysing blood samples as well measuring blood pressure and insulin levels. The children’s fat levels will be assessed using a full body scan, called a DXA, which gives a more accurate measure than using a BMI analysis.

A key feature of the research is that the activity levels of the children will be measured using an ‘actigraph’. This device, which is worn on the child’s belt throughout the day, measures physical activity length and intensity, giving a minute-by-minute assessment for daily and weekly activity

The research aims to better understand the complex relationship between physical activity and obesity, providing evidence for the development of schemes that can most benefit child health.

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