CEDAR Bulletin No. 19 – December 2016

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Merry Christmas – and a year in review

xmas-dinnerA very merry Christmas and a happy New Year from all at CEDAR!

It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that 2016 has been an eventful year, and we’ve been busy at CEDAR too. Thank you to everyone who has collaborated with us, attended our seminars, used our research, read our news, and talked to us at conferences, in meetings and on Twitter.

At the risk of blowing our own festive trumpet, we thought we would take the opportunity to look back on some of the highlights of our year…

In January, the Physical Activity and Public Health group published the final report of the Commuting and Health in Cambridge study was published, and Oliver Mytton reflected on nature’s cure in the modern world.

In chilly February, we were in the news calling for children to be given more support to be active during winter.

By March, a lot of New Year’s resolutions were probably fading. But Dr Pablo Monsivais reminded us that food choices are complex, and we shouldn’t be accusing the poor of making bad diet choices. We also released the eleventh in our series of Evidence Briefs profiling an evidence review for the Creating Active School Environments for Adolescents (CASE) study.

April saw the launch of our new data visualisation that enables you to explore 13 years of food price changes. The same month, Dr Jean Adams and colleagues asked: Why are some population interventions for diet and obesity more equitable and effective than others?

May brought welcome news that walking and cycling are good for health even in cities with higher levels of air pollution. But that’s no excuse for inaction: this new evidence strengthens the case for supporting cycling to help reduce vehicle emissions. Unfortunately, when it comes to the food health of our neighbourhoods, we revealed that neighbourhoods with more takeaways amplify social inequalities in unhealthy eating and obesity. In light of this, Dr Tom Burgoine and Dr Pablo Monsivais argued that local takeaways are creating a double burden for obesity.

In June, together with our collaborators at the Centre for Research on Environment, society and Health (CRESH), we released a study showing the impact of the M74 motorway extension on road traffic accidents. June was also the month of the inaugural MRC Festival of Medical Research. We teamed up with the MRC Epidemiology Unit to invite members of the public to ask Are you in a healthy place?  and share insight into how neighbourhoods are influencing what we eat and how much we move around. Also in June, the renewal of Cambridge’s membership of the NIHR School for Public Health Research was announced – which includes CEDAR research leads Prof Martin White and Dr David Ogilvie.

July meant that it was our turn to host the annual UKCRC Public Health Research Centres of Excellence conference in Norwich . Thank you to all our colleagues at the Centre of Excellence in Public Health, Northern Ireland, DECIPher, Fuse, SCPHRP, and UKCTAS for making it a success. Meanwhile, Dr Annalijn Conklin, Dr Pablo Monsivais, and Dr Nita Forouhi wrote about how a varied diet can prevent type 2 diabetes… but can you afford it? Just one question to be asked in the search for Population Approaches to Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes – examined by Prof Martin White in a PLOS Medicine diabetes special issue  that month.

In August we announced that applications were open for PhD Studentships in Epidemiology and Public Health Research who will be starting with us later in 2017. We started our work with our colleagues in Oxford and LSHTM on the evaluation of the health impacts of the UK industry levy on sugar sweetened beverages. And over the summer, David Ogilvie was featured in Cambridge University Research Horizons magazine talking about putting health at the centre of our cities.

As we noticed the days shortening, September brought our twelfth Evidence Brief: A child for all seasons – Addressing seasonal variation in children’s physical activity. That month we also featured a new online tool to inform cycling investment.

The diet and physical activity sides of our work both got a public airing in October. Prof Nick Wareham spoke at the Cambridge Festival of Ideas: Don’t stop moving: is the digital world friend or foe in fighting a sedentary future? And courtesy of the Worshipful Company of Cooks, Prof Martin White asked: Can the UK cook its way to better health?

In November, Dr David Ogilvie, Dr Jenna Panter and Dr Cornelia Guell wrote about buses, bicycles and building for health in the latest Journal of the Town and Country Planning Association all about planning and health (pdf, article on page 470).

In December, Dr Jean Adams took part in a Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology seminar on the Government’s plans for childhood obesity. Dr Sarah Hanson at UEA published research which focused on the importance of group walking for helping us cut our risk of life threatening conditions. And CEDAR’s Dr Oliver Mytton blogged about understanding the health benefits of sugar tax following the publication of a Lancet paper with colleagues at Oxford, Reading and Wellington New Zealand on health impact assessment of the UK soft drinks industry levy.

Farewells, greetings and congratulations

shutterstock_124981016This year we said thank you and goodbye to a number of members of our team:

Dr Rick Prins left the Physical Activity and Public Health group to work as a researcher at Minddistrict in Amsterdam.

Study coordinator Annie Schiff left us after eight years, having been with CEDAR from the very beginning and contributing to numerous CEDAR and MRC Epidemiology Unit studies.

Dr Andy Atkin left the Behaviour Epidemiology group, having been appointed a lecturer at UEA. And Dr Katie Morton who worked on the Creating Active School Environments (CASE) study also left the group and has joined Innovia Technology.

Congratulations to Nick Jones, Eva Maguire and Sophie Atwood who all successfully defended their PhD theses. Nick has joined the Department for Transport, Eva is working at the Department for Communities and Local Government and Sophie has taken up a new role as Research Fellow at Nuffield Health.

Well done also to Dr Oliver Mytton for completing his PhD, and to Dr Jenna Panter, who was appointed to a Senior Research Associate position in our Physical Activity and Public Health programme. And congratulations to Dr Sara Benjamin Neelon who has been appointed as the Inaugural Director of the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

We had a big intake of new CEDAR members in the autumn. We welcomed a new cohort of PhD students: Miriam Alvarado, Chloe Clifford Astbury and Amy Yau all joined our Dietary Public Health groups, Anna Le Gouais and Lindsey Smith joined the Physical Activity and Public Health group, and Sonja Klingberg joined the Behavioural Epidemiology group.

Also in Behavioural Epidemiology, Dr Justin Guagliano joined as Research Associate with the Families Reporting Every Step to Health (FRESH) study, and Dr Catherine Gammon replaces Katie Morton as Career Development Fellow on the CASE programme. Last but not least, Dr Craig Knott joined us as Research Associate in the Physical Activity and Public Health.

GoActive is up and running

GoActive_2colMembers of CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit have been busy collecting baseline data for the NIHR (National Institute of Health Research) funded evaluation of GoActive, a physical activity promotion programme for 13-14 year-old secondary school students.

Since mid-September, the team have conducted measurements with almost 1500 students in Cambridgeshire and Essex, completing 8 out of 16 recruited schools. We anticipate a total of over 2500 students will be involved by mid-January 2017.

Anthropometric, psychological, and social information collected from each student will complement physical activity data obtained from wrist-worn activity monitors.

In Spring term 2017, students in 8 of the schools will receive the GoActive physical activity promotion programme run by school-based student mentors with help from Cambridgeshire County Council and Active Essex. Further measurement sessions will be conducted with all students in Summer terms 2017 and 2018.

This represents a fantastic team effort by members of GoActive core staff, the Unit field team and other functional groups, and volunteers from CEDAR research groups – and so we’d like to thank all those involved for their help and hard work.

Upcoming public health talks

shutterstock_124494247 SMALL9 January 2017, 15:00: Dr Amanda Adler, Chair, NICE Technology Appraisal Committee B. Health Economics @ Cambridge seminar: NICE Technology Appraisal Process and Challenges to Decision Makers.
Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge

3 February 2017, 13.00: Professor John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer, Public Health England.
Bradford Hill Seminar: Measuring everything everywhere: the Global Burden of Disease study and its use by Public Health England
Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge

22 February 2017, 12:30. Dr Snehal Pinto Pereira, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.
CEDAR / MRC Epidemiology Unit Seminar: A life-course investigation of influences on physical inactivity stability and change: findings from the 1958 British Birth Cohort
Meeting Rooms 1&2, Level 4, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge Biomedical Campus

More talks and events at www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/events and  www.iph.cam.ac.uk/news/seminars  

Recent CEDAR publications


The following papers have been published or added to our publications database since the last CEDAR Bulletin. All are Open Access. In total we’ve published over 60 research papers this year!

General public health


Physical activity

You can search over 350 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