CEDAR Bulletin No. 20 – March 2017

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New Evidence Brief  – DASH diet in the UK and Ireland

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan has proven health benefits and is more environmentally sustainable than typical UK diets. However, barriers to its widespread adoption remain.

Researchers are studying the health effects of the DASH diet and how it can be more widely applied to improve population health.

This Evidence Brief was prepared by researchers at CEDAR and the HRB Centre for Health and Diet Research in Ireland.

Evidence Brief special – England’s Cycling Potential

Data produced for a Department for Transport funded tool highlights just how much more cycling people in England could do, given the right policies and investments.

New analysis for the Propensity to Cycle Tool – www.pct.bike – shows that if English people were as likely as the Dutch to cycle trips of similar length and hilliness, nearly one in five of us would cycle to work.

This Evidence Brief special, produced with the PCT team from CEDAR and the Universities of Leeds, Westminster and Leeds, looks at where in England has the highest cycling, including urban and rural examples. It also examines the potential benefits of increasing cycling to health and the environment.

Cycling more and eating more fruit & veg could save thousands of lives – but at what cost?

By being more physically active and having a healthier diet, we can reduce our chance of becoming ill and dying prematurely. However, the impact of individuals’ behaviour can be difficult to measure in populations.

New research published in BMJ Open by researchers from the CEDAR, the MRC Epidemiology Unit and the University of Oxford helps us to find out how much these small changes in behaviour could improve our overall health.

The research shows that, by replacing short car trips with cycling and eating more fruits and vegetables, thousands of premature deaths per year could be prevented. However, as well as these benefits, these changes also have an impact on the environment and on consumers’ wallets.

Understanding these costs and benefits will allow us to better quantify the total impacts of various active travel and diet scenarios – and help support better public health policies.

Working with stakeholders and target groups to prioritise CASE interventions

In the Creating Active School Environments (CASE) project, we are working towards finding effective programmes to encourage secondary school students to sit less and move more.

To help us identify the most promising programmes, we worked with 37 stakeholders (including secondary school students) to prioritise a list of nine potential programmes.

We asked them to consider various criteria for programmes: reach, equality, acceptability, feasibility, cost, and effectiveness. For ‘effectiveness’ we also asked them to indicate the relative importance of each effectiveness outcome – i.e. in relation to physical activity promotion, enjoyment of school, academic achievement, behaviour, mental health and wellbeing, and teacher job satisfaction.

Introducing active lessons was the most popular programme amongst all stakeholders. The key criterion to inform this decision was effectiveness, with ‘mental health and wellbeing’ and ‘enjoyment of school’ considered the most important outcome outcomes.

CEDAR PhD studentships 2017

PhD Studentships in Public Health Research (Diet and Physical Activity), University of Cambridge

We are currently recruiting for candidates to start a PhD in Cambridge in October 2017 in our public health and prevention-related research programmes. The studentships enable students to explore and develop their own area of research, within the context of the broader aims of:

  • understanding the determinants of dietary and physical activity behaviour,
  • evaluating the effectiveness of interventions, and
  • estimating the long term costs and benefits of behaviour change.

For further information and examples of previous studentships and potential areas of research focus, visit www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/phds2017/

Prospective students are encouraged to contact potential supervisors to discuss their plans (contact details via the link above.)

  • Closing date: 31 March 2017
  • Interviews will be scheduled between 18 and 21 April 2017

Cambridge Science Festival – Get personal with our scientists

This year’s Cambridge Science Festival (13-26 March) is getting personal – putting our brains, psychology and behaviours under the microscope during a series of events that explore who we are and what makes us tick.

Join researchers – including those from CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit – at a huge range of public events, talks and hands-on expeditions.

Our events are:

Do our genes influence our behaviours?
Wednesday 15 March: 6:00pm – 7:00pm, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms , 8 Mill Lane, CB2 1RW

The effect of our genes on health and disease is well recognised, but can they also influence other facets of our lives? In this talk Dr John Perry of the MRC Epidemiology Unit will examine how recent genetic research suggests this may extend to regulating our personality and behaviours that predispose to obesity and other disorders.


A healthier you in a high tech future?
Saturday 18 March: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday 18 March: 6:00pm – 8:00pm (evening session for grown-ups)
Sunday 19 March: 12:00pm – 4:00pm
The Guildhall, Market Square, CB2 3QJ

The latest technology now offers scientists the possibility to continuously monitor the way we move and how our bodies respond, and for a few hundred pounds we can discover clues in our DNA about our current and future health. But how is this data collected, and can we really trust it? Does all this information mean a future of personalised diets and healthcare, or do we need to look much wider than the individual to enhance our health and wellbeing?

Visit our stand to take a personal journey through the different types of data we work with. Find out about the foods you eat and learn how we can tell if you’re sitting on the sofa or a bike. See how your data compares to others, and tell us if you think all this information can help people live healthier lives

Browse and book all the Cambridge Science Festival events at www.sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk/events  

Seminar – Food marketing regulation and childhood obesity prevention

22 March 2017, 12:30 – 1:30
Food marketing regulation and childhood obesity prevention
Professor Amandine Garde, Law & Non-Communicable Diseases, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool.
MRC Epidemiology Unit Meeting Rooms 1&2, Level 3, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

Over the last twenty years, a range of studies have established that food marketing affects children’s consumption preferences and purchase requests. However, in stark contrast with what has happened for tobacco products, public authorities in the UK, in Europe and beyond have been extremely reluctant to restrict the marketing of food high in fat, sugar and salt, preferring to rely instead on the self-regulatory commitments or ‘pledges’ of food industry operators. This reluctance to impose legally binding restrictions on food marketing, particularly to children, raises a range of questions which this talk will focus on.

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 360 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