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Internal News - 02 April 2008

New research grants will help promote healthy lifestyles

The School for Health has been awarded more than £600,000 by the Medical Research Council for two new research projects aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles.

The first study, led by professors Chris Riddoch and Ken Judge with colleagues at the universities of Bristol and Cambridge, will investigate how children’s physical activity is affected by their social, cultural, ethnic and geographical backgrounds.

They will use longitudinal data on 20,000 children aged 4-18 years from a variety of countries and will also explore the links between physical activity and a range of health outcomes, such as obesity and risk of cardio vascular disease, for different demographic and social groups.

In the second study, Drs Martyn Standage and Fiona Gillison, together with Professor Bas Verplanken (Department of Psychology) and colleagues in the NHS, will study adolescents as they leave school for low-paid employment.

The main focus of the research will be on dietary and physical activity patterns, which are central to the modern epidemic of obesity. Obesity is more prevalent in manual workers and those with lower educational attainment and the future risk of ill health from non-communicable diseases is greater in this segment of the population.

The particular significance of this study is that the ‘school to work’ transition provides a period of time when the developing adolescent forms new physical activity and dietary habits that will shape their later lives.

The study will assess the added value of incentives in promoting healthy lifestyle habits, in addition to the provision of behavioural support.