CEDAR Bulletin 13 – May 2015

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The rise of the takeaway: fast food outlets in deprived areas increases substantially

TakeawaysThe number of takeaway food outlets has risen substantially over the past two decades, with a large increase seen in areas of socioeconomic disadvantage, according to a study carried out across Norfolk by researchers at CEDAR.

The study published in the journal Health & Place analysed the change in density of takeaway food outlets across Norfolk between 1990 and 2008 and how this related to levels of neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation.

Over the 18 year period, the number of takeaway food outlets rose by 45%, from 265 to 385 outlets. This equated to an increase from 2.6 outlets to 3.8 outlets per 10,000 residents. The highest absolute increase in density of outlets was in areas of highest deprivation, which saw an increase from 4.6 outlets to 6.5 outlets per 10,000 residents (a 43% increase). This is in contrast to areas of least deprivation, which saw an increase from 1.6 to 2.1 per 10,000 residents over the time period (a 30% increase).

This follows research from 2014 that showed that people who lived and worked near a high number of takeaway outlets tended to eat more takeaway food and were more likely to be obese than those less exposed.

New CEDAR in the media section of our website

You can now browse all of our major media stories since the beginning of 2014 at www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/news/in-the-media 

DASH for the planet – a diet to benefit health and help mitigate climate change

shutterstock_92076083CROPGreater adherence with a diet rich in vegetables, low fat dairy and whole grains is not only good for health but also good for the planet, according to a study by researchers at CEDAR and Oxford University.

The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is a proven way to prevent and control hypertension and other chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

New analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that this diet is also associated with lower emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases. However, the researchers found that keeping to the DASH diet was associated with higher food costs, and suggest that systemic changes may be needed to make healthier, low-carbon diets more affordable.

Switching to public transport or cycling might help shed the pounds

Two People Gripping Bicycle Handle BarsEncouraging people to switch from driving to work to walking, cycling or using public transport could help reduce the level of obesity in the population, according to new research from the University of East Anglia and CEDAR.

Researchers found that switching from car commuting to active travel or public transport was associated with a reduction in body mass index (BMI), even over a relatively short time period of two years.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health is based on the responses of over 4000 adults in three annual waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) collected between 2004 and 2007. Switching from the car to walking, cycling or public transport was associated with a statistically significant average reduction of 0.32 BMI units after taking account of other potential explanations. This equates to a difference of about 1 kg for the average person. While that is a relatively small proportion of their total weight, the longer the commute, the stronger the association. For those with a commute of more than 30 minutes, there was an average reduction of 2.25 BMI units, or around 7 kg for the average person.

It’s raining, it’s pouring – weather-proof interventions needed at primary schools

rain-or-dew-drops_w725_h544Increased rainfall is associated with significant decreases in physical activity among primary school children but not secondary school children, according to new research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Efforts to keep children active in the rain and be less affected by bad weather would therefore be best directed at primary schools.

CEDAR researchers used accelerometers to monitor the physical activity of nearly 300 children from Norfolk, and examined the relationship between rainfall and physical activity over the whole day, during travel time to school, at lunchtime and after school. At ages 9-10 and 10-11 years, physical activity declined with increasing rainfall. However, at 13-14 years, there was no significant trend in physical activity over increasing amounts of rainfall.

The research suggests efforts to increase activity on wet days may be most relevant at primary schools, and that interventions that specifically encourage free play in wet weather are therefore important to consider. Other strategies will be needed to increase overall adolescent activity.

Global economic impact of diabetes revealed in new study

Type 2 diabetes reduces people’s employment chances and wages around the world – according to a new study from the University of East Anglia, supported by CEDAR.

Researchers found a large cost burden of diabetes not only in high-income countries, but also in low and middle-income countries – where people with diabetes and their families face high costs for treatment.

The research team looked at data from 109 studies in the largest and most up-to-date global review of the economic impact of diabetes. The findings underline the need for continued policy attention to diabetes prevention in high income and developing countries.

Pupils thinking of an active future

H_7821An exhibition created by pupils from St Philips CofE Primary School in Cambridge on how children might stay healthy in the future has been unveiled at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

As part of a joint research study by artists and scientists, the children were asked a series of questions on what being active means to them by Dr Helen Brown, Career Development Fellow at CEDAR. They developed their thoughts on activity in the future in three creative workshops run by artist Sally Todd from Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI).

Helen Brown commented: “This project has been a fantastic example of how art and science can interact to help children explore active futures. Part of our remit at CEDAR is to develop programmes to ensure young people live healthy and happy lives, and so learning from the children themselves has been extraordinary. Their innovative ideas for active buildings and policies has been inspiring – and it was great fun to see them being so creative.”

New cyclists still disproportionately young and male, research finds

shutterstock_138839354New research based on the analysis of Census 2001 and 2011 data has found that growing cycling levels have not been accompanied by greater age and gender diversity.

It found that in places where cycling to work has risen, cycle commuting has remained a disproportionately male activity. It has also become even more skewed towards younger age groups.

The findings are surprising because places where cycling is already well established tend to have higher proportions of female and older cyclists. For example, in the Netherlands, women cycle more than men. In Cambridge, which has the UK’s highest cycling levels, almost equal numbers of men and women cycle to work.

These results show that UK policy-makers cannot assume that if cycling grows it will inevitably become more diverse – policy needs to be better targeted towards under-represented groups.

House of Commons Health Committee report published
Inquiry into the impact of physical activity and diet on health

PortCullisOn 25 March 2015, the House of Commons Health Select Committee published its report Impact of physical activity and diet on health.

CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit had submitted a joint response to the Inquiry. Prof Nick Wareham, Director of the Unit and CEDAR was invited to give expert testimony to the Committee on 3 February.

More evidence submissions can be found at www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/resources/evidence-submissions 

Recent CEDAR publications

openaccessAs well as those highlighted above, the following papers have been added to our publications database since the last CEDAR Bulletin. All are Open Access.

You can search over 250 CEDAR scientific papers by author, journal, study, title and abstract keywords on our publications database at www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/publications 

Upcoming talks and seminars

shutterstock_124494247 SMALLWe have a number of forthcoming talks in our CEDAR / MRC Epidemiology Seminar series.

Details are subject to confirmation, so please check for updates and/or sign up to receive email alerts at www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/news/seminars

  • Monday 1 June 2015, Dr Helen Eyles, School of Population Health, University of Auckland. , Institute of Metabolic Science, level 4 seminar rooms
  • Friday 5 June 2015, Dr Genevieve Healy, School of Population Health, University of Queensland. Time, venue & title TBC
  • Monday 29 June 2015, 1-2pm, Dr Tony Blakely, University of Otago.
    Standing up for young children’s health: How sedentary are young children, what factors may influence sedentariness and what can be done to reduce it?
    Venue TBC

Also Bradford Hill Seminars:

  • Friday 12 June 2015, 1.00 – 2.00pm, Dr David Pencheon, Director of NHS Sustainability Unit
    Large seminar room, Cambridge Institute for Public Health. Directions here.
  • Friday 6 November 2015, 1.00 – 2.00pm, Professor Martin White, MRC Epidemiology Unit and CEDAR; Director of the NIHR Public Health Research Programme
    Large seminar room, Cambridge Institute for Public Health. Directions here.

Details of all Bradford Hill Seminars can be found at: www.iph.cam.ac.uk/news/seminars

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