CEDAR Bulletin 15 – December 2015

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Cambridgeshire guided busway encouraging people to be more active on the commute

BuswayThe bus might seem like a natural enemy of the vulnerable cyclist. But in Cambridgeshire, a ‘guided busway’ is encouraging more cycling and helping commuters to become more active on their way to work. This is according to a new study from the University of Cambridge, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The guided busway provides a dedicated track that excludes other traffic, running from St Ives into Cambridge and out to Trumpington via the Biomedical Campus. The project has provided a new bus network, two new park-and-ride sites, and a traffic-free path for pedestrians and cyclists along the busway.

This independent scientific study was led by CEDAR researchers in the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with University College London and the University of East Anglia. Researchers followed 469 commuters over time and assessed changes in their activity patterns before and after the opening of the busway.

The latest results show that people living closer to the busway were more likely to increase the time they spent cycling on the commute than those living further away. The researchers also found that the largest effect on physical activity on the journey to work was seen in those commuters who were least active before the busway opened. This suggests that the busway could help shift activity patterns in the population at large, rather than just encouraging those who are already active to do a little more.

Evidence Brief: Common Agricultural Policy Sugar Reforms – Implications for Public Health

Sugar_2xmacroChanges in the Common Agricultural Policy are restructuring the food system to reduce the commodity price of sugar.
As a result, sugars will become cheaper to incorporate into processed foods, potentially increasing sugar content in our food. This is likely to have a negative impact on initiatives to reduce sugar consumption in the UK and across Europe.

This new Evidence Brief looks at how changes at a European level could impact on UK sugar consumption, the mixed signals it could send on public health, and questions and options for policymakers and the public health community.

Evidence Brief: Children’s sedentary behaviour, health and the family environment

shutterstock_154972370We know that physical activity in children has health benefits, and recently there has been an increasing focus on sedentary behaviour as a possible health risk. So how much do we really know about the impact of too much sitting, and what role does the family have in tackling it?

This new Evidence Brief provides a useful summary of the evidence about sedentary behaviour in children.

It examined how sedentary behaviour is related to overall physical activity, its potential impacts on health, how the family environment might influence it, and implications for policy and future research.

Creating Active School Environments: non-academic literature review

CASE large logo transparentThe Creating Active School Environments (CASE) project aims to find ways to help adolescents be more active and sit less within the school environment.

Funded by the Department of Health Policy Research Program, CASE will increase our understanding of how secondary schools can help young people move more and sit less throughout the day. It will help identify what strategies would be most effective, acceptable and provide the best value for money.

CASE has recently published The School Environment and Adolescent Physical Activity, a review of non-academic literature in this area.

Researchers explored the UK-based non-academic literature relating to school-based interventions and programmes that have attempted to modify the school physical, social and policy environment in order to increase physical activity and/or reduce sedentary behaviours in adolescent populations. They also conducted a small number of telephone interviews with individuals from organisations involved in implementing these sorts of initiatives.

Although several detailed frameworks and guidance documents exist outlining how schools can promote physical activity via changes to their wider school environment, there remain very few evaluations of these sorts of initiatives in secondary schools. Most initiatives targeting the school environment have focused on extracurricular physical activity policies and PE initiatives.

Making successful changes to the wider school environment involved consulting with students and allowing them to design and lead initiatives. Changing the school culture is also essential, which means making physical activity a priority, effective leadership and having the whole school involved in planning and implementation.

PhD Studentships in Epidemiology and Public Health Research 2016

Graduation-UniversityofCambridge-1000We’re looking for new PhD students at CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit.

Funded studentships, commencing in October 2016, are available in the social and environmental determinants of physical activity and dietary behaviour, population-level interdisciplinary diet and physical activity intervention research and public health modelling.

These are 3-year positions for those who have a Master’s degree, or equivalent training, in an appropriate scientific discipline. Opportunities also exist for 4-year positions for those wishing to undertake the MPhil in Epidemiology or Public Health in the first year.

We provide diverse training opportunities for all aspects of research and for transferable academic and generic skills. The academic requirement for entry is a first or upper second class degree or equivalent. Graduate students register with the University of Cambridge and belong to one of its Colleges.

Group walking systematic review wins BJSM award

WG by riverUniversity of East Anglia’s Sarah Hanson has jointly won the British Journal of Sports Medicine Annual Award for best intervention systematic review.

Sarah’s review, examined 42 studies to determine the health benefits of outdoor walking groups. The meta-analysis revealed significant improvements in a number of important health outcomes, including blood pressure, percentage body fat, and physical function.

Given that such walking groups experience low attrition and high adherence rates, this review highlights walking groups as a cost-effective and low-risk option for clinicians counselling physically inactive patients.

CEDAR/MRC Epidemiology Seminars

  • CANCELLED: 10 December 2015, 11:00 am
    Derek Yach, The Vitality Institute

Further seminar and events can be found at: www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/events

Other talks at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, including the Bradford Hill series, are available at www.iph.cam.ac.uk/news/seminars/ 

Recent CEDAR publications

openaccessThe following papers have been added to our publications database since the last CEDAR Bulletin. All are Open Access.

General public health


Physical activity

You can search over 290 CEDAR scientific papers by author, journal, study, title and abstract keywords on our publications database at www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/publications

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Questions and comments to Oliver Francis: ocf26@cam.ac.uk