CEDAR Bulletin No. 18 – September 2016

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New Evidence Brief – A child for all seasons


It’s back to school time, and soon the nights will be drawing in, and the weather will be getting colder and probably wetter. That might mean fewer opportunities for children to be active.

But it’s not all bad news. Understanding how physical activity in children changes with the seasons can help us identify periods when additional support might encourage more of it.

Our work at CEDAR is describing this seasonal variation in physical activity, identifying the factors that influence related behaviours, and investigating strategies to help children maintain their activity all year round.

We’ve just published a new Evidence Brief on this topic, looking at patterns, causes and possible solutions.

A varied diet can prevent diabetes – but can you afford it?

shutterstock_92076083CROPA healthy diet is critical for preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes affects around 415m adults globally; a figure that is expected to rise to 643m by 2040, mostly in low- and middle-income countries.

An important measure of a good diet is its variety, and for several decades governments have recommended that people eat a varied diet. However, there are a number of barriers to such a diet, including the cost of food.

Annalijn Conklin, a former PhD student at CEDAR; Nita Forouhi from the MRC Epidemiology Unit; and Pablo Monsivais from CEDAR have written in The Conversation about their recent study in this area. Examining detailed information about the eating habits of over 25,000 adults which, they found that those with a greater diversity of foods in their diet showed a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes over a ten-year period.

The authors discuss what diet diversity means for different groups of people, how cost might affect it, and what Governments might do about the situation.

New online tool to help increase cycling across England

19-07-16_pct_logo_bikeonlyA new Department for Transport funded tool highlights just how much potential there is in England for people to get cycling. The Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) – www.pct.bike – was developed by a team of researchers including the Public Health Modelling group from CEDAR.

It is freely available and open source, and is helping planners understand the scope for increasing cycling in England, as well as pinpointing specific areas and routes where cycling might grow most.

The tool uses Census data about journeys to work. It offers four ‘scenarios’ that show town and transport planners which areas and routes may have the highest potential for commuter cycling in the future. These are shown on an interactive map of England. The tool takes into account not only journey distances but also how hilly routes are – important factors that influence whether a particularly journey is likely to be cycled.

Because cycling is a great way to get regular physical activity, and reduces the number of cars on the road, increasing cycling would have substantial health, environment and congestion benefits.

Access the tool at www.pct.bike, where you can also watch an introductory video.

Happy Mondays (and every day) – putting health at the centre of our cities

shutterstock_126843191Life in towns and cities can grind you down, but putting health and wellbeing at the centre of new housing and infrastructure developments could make for happier, healthier citizens.

CEDAR’s David Ogilvie is among the researchers interviewed by Cambridge University’s Research Horizons magazine about how living in a city can be good and bad for your health and wellbeing.

David talks about implications of recent findings from the Commuting and Health In Cambridge study, and how by making our journeys to and from work more active, city planners could help us all be a bit more physically active.

The impact of the M74 motorway extension on road traffic accidents

m747A new study, funded by the NIHR PHR Programme and published by the Centre for Research on Environment, society and Health (CRESH) and colleagues at CEDAR evaluated the impact of the 5-mile M74 motorway extension on road accidents that resulted in a casualty.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that it had no impact on the already decreasing trend of road accidents in the area.

The 5-mile M74 extension opened in June 2011 in the south of Glasgow, following a three year construction period. The new motorway, which is mainly raised above existing roads and dwellings, travels through relatively poor neighbourhoods of the city.

Researchers found that the motorway extension had no impact on the already decreasing trend of road accidents in the local area and wider city region, either during construction or following its opening. The results also showed that the motorway extension did not increase the number of road accidents either.

Active living in later life – reflections from a knowledge exchange workshop

LHWKEWorkshop1As part of qualitative research on active ageing, funded through the UK Research Councils’ Lifelong Health and Wellbeing initiative and supported by the EPIC-Norfolk study, researchers at CEDAR organised a knowledge exchange workshop in April 2016.

Dissemination events usually either invite the public or engage with policymakers and practitioners. Instead, we decided to bring together the researchers, study participants and relevant stakeholders from policy and practice.

Stakeholders included Norfolk County Council, Age UK, Age Concern, Active Norfolk and Public Health England.

Held at the Assembly House in Norwich, the event was a 2½ hour ‘learned lunch’ with formal and informal discussions.  We invited everyone to share reflections on our study findings, and co-develop ideas for interventions that reflect their experiences as users, facilitators or commissioners of such initiatives.

Don’t stop moving: is the digital world friend or foe in fighting a sedentary future?

A photo by David Grandmougin. unsplash.com/photos/Am1io6KusFMPublic talk with Professor Nick Wareham
Saturday 22 October, 3:00pm. Faculty of Law, 10 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DZ

Physical inactivity is a 21st Century epidemic. Changing society and technology has created a world where we move less and sit more. These changes have brought benefits, but also health risks.

But could the technology that threatens us also come to our rescue? Recent years have seen digital innovations that are aimed at getting us moving again, whether it’s a simple text message to prompt behaviour change, or wearables technologies that measure and feed back on the user’s every movements and vital sign.

As well as what it means for the individual, all the data this generates has big implications for society. How do we capture, process and make use of it all? Can policymakers use these new technologies to nudge us back to a more active way of living? And what ethical implications does this create?

As part of the University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas, CEDAR and MRC Epidemiology Unit Director Prof Nick Wareham will give a public talk exploring these and other questions.

Other upcoming public health talks

shutterstock_124494247 SMALL4 November, 13:00: Professor Torsten Lauritzen, Department of Public Health, Institute of General Medical Practice, Aarhus University, Denmark. Should we screen for diabetes and related cardiovascular risk?
Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge

18 November, 13.00: Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde; former Chief Medical Officer for Scotland. Title TBC
Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge

25 November 2016, 17.00 (TBC): Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England. Title TBC.

3 February 2017, 13.00: Professor John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer, Public Health England. Title TBC
Large Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge

Full details of all these and other talks at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health are at www.iph.cam.ac.uk/news/seminars/  

PhD Studentships and Research Associate vacancy

Graduation-UniversityofCambridge-1000PhD Studentships
CEDAR and the MRC Epidemiology Unit are inviting expressions of interest from prospective candidates for PhD studies for 2017 entry. In particular, at this stage we welcome informal approaches from non-UK and non-EU candidates who will need to apply to external funding sources. E.g. Gates Cambridge (USA) deadline for applications is 12 October 2016. Other funding deadlines: 7 December 2016.

Research Associate – mixed methods process evaluation in adolescent PA promotion
The MRC Epidemiology Unit and CEDAR are seeking to appoint a post-doctoral Research Associate with experience in qualitative research methods and an interest in mixed-methods research. The post-holder will work on the process evaluation of an NIHR-funded randomised controlled trial to assess the effectiveness of the GoActive physical activity promotion intervention for adolescents www.goactive-uk.com

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 some 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