In this issue
News and views
- CEDAR researchers contribute to Food Foundation’s Broken Plate 2021
- New global study identifies a threshold for gender equality in cycling
- Things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD…
- Desigining cities differently for longer lives
- How is food insecurity portrayed in UK newspapers?
- Also happening at the MRC Epidemiology Unit
Talks and workshops
- Seminar: Policymaking – why it matters to us, how it works, what to do – 19 July
- Panel discussion: What makes healthy eating so hard?
- Talk: Are sugar taxes effective in reducing the consumption of fizzy drinks?
- Workshop for Accelerometry Measurement in Africa – 5-7 October 2021
Jobs and opportunities
- Research Associate/Senior Research Associate, GDAR
- Database specialist / Data Manager
- Research Assistant – Laboratory
- Research Associate – Diet and Eating Behaviours across Early Adulthood Transitions
- Mandala Consortium Research Fellow positions at LSHTM
CEDAR researchers contribute to Food Foundation’s Broken Plate 2021
Researchers from CEDAR have contributed to the Food Foundation’s annual The Broken Plate report for the third year in a row.
Each year the report tracks progress against 10 metrics that illustrate the health of our food system.
This year’s report demonstrates that the food environment is skewed towards less healthy options, and that healthier foods are much less accessible and affordable for those on lower incomes. It shows why we must change the food environment so that it delivers healthy and sustainable diets for everyone.
CEDAR researchers provided contributions to the report looking at the affordability of healthy diets, and the takeaway food environment.
Seven is the magic number: new global study identifies a threshold for gender equality in cycling
In many countries, including the UK, many fewer women than men cycle. Using data from 17 countries in six continents, a new study led by CEDAR researchers has identified a threshold above which we start to see at least as many women cycling as men.
At a country level, this is 7% of all trips by bike, a tipping point that has been reached in the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Finland and Switzerland.
The two cities with highest levels of cycling (“mode share”) in the study are Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Osaka in Japan. In both of these cities, just under one in three trips are made by bike, whereas in cities with the lowest mode share it is less than 1 in a hundred. In Osaka almost two-thirds of bike trips are made by women.
The picture is very different in London, where only 3% of trips are made by bike, and this drops to 1% among women. A similar picture of inequity is found in many of the Latin and North American cities studied in the paper.
- Read the full story
- Paper: Cycling behaviour in 17 countries across 6 continents: levels of cycling, who cycles, for what purpose, and how far? Rahul Goel, Anna Goodman, Rachel Aldred, Ryota Nakamura, Lambed Tatah, Leandro Martin Totaro Garcia, Belen Diomedi-Zapata, Thiago Herick de Sa, Geetam Tiwari, Audrey de Nazelle, Marko Tainio, Ralph Buehler, Thomas Götschi & James Woodcock. Transport Reviews 2021.
Things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD…
Members of the Population Health Interventions Programme have penned a blog reflecting on the experience of doing a PhD, and some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
They write about the challenges and joys of the process, research as a team sport, how not to take things too personally, how to enjoy all the different stages… and more.
These posts originally appeared on the Fuse Open Science Blog.
Desigining cities differently for longer lives
By 2050, it is projected that almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities, up from 55% today. The fastest urban growth is happening in Asia and Africa, which is also where we’re seeing a rapid rise in people suffering from, and dying of, heart disease. But can city planning can be harnessed to protect our health?
How is food insecurity portrayed in UK newspapers?
Food insecurity can be defined as “the inability to consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so”. A recent study aimed to understand the ways in which newspapers covered the topic of food insecurity. This provides insight into public and political attitudes, and could point the way to potential interventions.
- Read the full post
- Related paper: Newspaper coverage of food insecurity in UK, 2016–2019: a multi-method analysis, Amy Yau, Hardeep Singh-Lalli, Hannah Forde, Matthew Keeble, Martin White & Jean Adams. BMC Public Health, 2021. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11214-9
Also happening at the MRC Epidemiology Unit
Other stories making the news at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, which leads CEDAR:
New research finds genetics plays an important role in age at first sex and parenthood. An analysis of data from more than half a million UK Biobank participants has discovered hundreds of genetic markers driving two of life’s most momentous milestones – the age at when people first have sex and become parents. The researchers, from Oxford and Cambridge found that several of the genetic variants were associated with genes that are involved in aspects of reproductive biology, but that these genetic traits are strongly moderated by social factors and the environment.
Rare genetic variants confer largest increase in type 2 diabetes risk seen to date. Scientists have identified rare genetic variants – carried by one in 3,000 people – that have a larger impact on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than any previously identified genetic effect. The researchers say their findings will help identify potential targets for future studies to understand the common links between metabolic and cellular ageing, and to inform future treatments.
Ethnic diversity in research identifies more genomic regions linked to diabetes-related traits. By including multi-ethnic participants, a large scale genetic study has identified more regions of the genome linked to type 2 diabetes-related traits than if the research had been conducted in Europeans alone. These findings demonstrate that expanding research into different ancestries yields more and better results, as well as ultimately benefitting global patient care.
Study finds almost 1 million extra deaths in 29 high income countries in 2020 during Covid-19 pandemic. An international research collaboration has calculated that approximately one million excess deaths occurred in 2020 across 29 high income countries. Calculating excess deaths avoids complications from potential misclassification of deaths from COVID-19, and variations in testing rates between countries.
SWiM Feasibility Study starts recruiting volunteers. The SWiM (Supporting Weight Management) Feasibility Study has now started recruitment. This study will assess the acceptability and feasibility of a digital intervention for weight loss maintenance in adults who have previously completed a behavioural weight loss programme. The study aims to recruit a total of 60 participants.
Fenland Covid-19 study completes data collection. At the end of April, the Fenland Covid-19 study completed data collection. More than 4000 volunteers participated in the study, using the OneDraw blood collection device, with 2,387 using the Huma App, to examine the potential of identifying people who are infected in the pre-symptomatic phase. Analysis of the data is ongoing.
Unit welcomes first intern as part of Black internship programme. The MRC Epidemiology Unit is very pleased to be participating in the Health Data Research UK Black internship programme, and we have welcomed our first intern, Elizabeth Oduala. Elizabeth is doing a degree in Applied AI & Data Analytics at the University of Bradford, and during her internship will work in the Public Health Modelling programme.
Unit goes online for inaugural Cambridge Festival. MRC Epidemiology Unit PhD students and scientists took part in the inaugural Cambridge Festival, held online. Our researchers talked about involving people in research during the Covid-19 pandemic, and PhD students reflected on a day in the life.
MRC Epidemiology Unit receives Green Impact Platinum Award for 2020-21. The Unit was recognised by the University of Cambridge for implementing sustainable practices with the highest level of this award. Green Impact is a part of The Cambridge Green Challenge, the University of Cambridge’s environmental accreditation scheme, which supports and encourages departments and colleges in reducing their environmental impacts.
More MRC Epidemiology Unit news at www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/news/
Seminar: Policymaking – why it matters to us, how it works, what to do
Monday 19 July 12:00-13:15 BST
Why is it so difficult for UK governments to make progress on tackling obesity and food systems? In this seminar, three experts will present their research and insights of policy and practice in England. The seminar will then provide discussion about how the current government could make change in policies and systems to be more sustainable manner.
Chaired by Prof Martin White, speakers will be:
Catch up with past seminars
You can watch past and future seminars, including slides and recordings, at
The most recently available is: Global surveillance of young people’s physical activity with Dr Regina Guthold
Subscribe for direct updates on seminars via www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/subscribe/
Panel discussion: What makes healthy eating so hard?
Recording now available
From the global obesity epidemic to diet-related disease being the world’s biggest killer, we just can’t seem to get our diets right.
But what makes it so hard for us to eat healthily? Is will-power alone the answer or do genes play a part? Should governments take more responsibility? What about the way food is marketed? Should unhealthy food cost more?
In this Cambridge Global Food Security Food for Thought panel discussion, leading experts in behavioural psychology, genetics and public policy explore the reasons for our poor dietary choices and answer your questions. Speakers:
You can also catch up with Dolly Theis talking to Chris Snowdon from the Institute of Economic Affairs on his vodcast The Swift Half. They talk about obesity, policy, the ‘nanny state’, and Dolly’s mission to achieve gender balance in parliament. Watch on Youtube here here
Talk: Are sugar taxes effective in reducing the consumption of fizzy drinks?
Recording now available
In this Cambridge Global Food Security Coffee Break Seminar, CEDAR’s Dr Miriam Alvarado and Dr Hannah Forde discuss whether sugar taxes are an effective way of reducing the consumption of fizzy drinks, with comparisons between Barbados and the UK.
Workshop for Accelerometry Measurement in Africa
5 – 7 October 2021
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality globally. Evidence to design better physical activity interventions in low and middle income countries across the life course is urgently needed. This requires accurate ways of measuring free-living physical activity levels including light unstructured activities.
The Unit is partnering with the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa to deliver the Workshop for Accelerometry Measurement in Africa (WAMAA). This workshop is funded by Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research Fund and supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre Measurement Platform.
WAMAA aims to support African researchers conducting physical activity research with varying study objectives. The course is primarily aimed at researchers and students interested or involved in the objective monitoring of free-living physical activity.
There is no charge for this workshop, however it is expected to attract delegates from all over Africa and spaces are limited.
- More information and application details
- Closing date for applications: Friday 27 August 2021.
Jobs and opportunities
Research Associate/Senior Research Associate – Globaly Diet and Physical Activity
This position is based in the MRC Epidemiology Unit’s Global Diet and Physical Activity group. The post-holder will be expected to play a significant role in implementation of the current research agenda; and to provide the intellectual energy and independent thinking necessary to deliver the research. They will play a major role in implementing the overall aims and success of the group in consultation with the Programme Lead and researchers.
The successful candidate will have a PhD qualification in public health, epidemiology or related fields. Applicants will have proven skills in urban health research involving climate, built or food environments, and with working with large data sets. The candidate will expertise in evidence synthesis, quantitative and spatial epidemiological analytical methods and ideally have experience of conducting community-based research in low- and middle-income settings. Applicants may also have experience of conducting transdisciplinary participatory research.
- Closing date 28 July 2021
- Informal enquiries to Tolu Oni email@example.com.
- Full details https://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/30254/
Database Specialist / Data Manager
The Database Specialist will work within the MRC Epidemiology Unit’s Data Management Team providing database development and operational support for epidemiological research studies. They will use database and programming techniques to develop and deploy custom databases, provide ongoing maintenance and carry out processing tasks such as data cleaning, verification and validation. This role will work alongside other specialists using programming, web-technology and data management tools to support a varied portfolio of work.
The successful candidate will be educated to degree level in a scientific subject or have equivalent practical experience. Applicants will have experience in the development and implementation of relational databases and an aptitude for software development and use of programming techniques. Experience using MS Access with MS SQL Server or using Python with an open source database, e.g. MySQL or MariaDB, would be particularly advantageous.
- Closing date 22 July 2021
- Informal enquiries to Tony Webb firstname.lastname@example.org
- Full details https://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/30332/
Research Assistant – Laboratory
This position is based in our modern laboratory on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The post will be responsible for carrying out biomarker measurements on the Fenland Study (https://www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/research/studies/fenland/) investigating levels of metabolic hormones. It’s a practical role that involves the high-throughput set-up of an existing laboratory method to produce high-quality data. The job will include applying QC standards troubleshooting technical difficulties with the assay or equipment where necessary.
- Closing date 22 July 2021
- Full details https://www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/30329/
Research Associate – Diet and Eating Behaviours across Early Adulthood Transitions
A research associate position is soon to be advertised to work on the Diet and Eating Behaviours across Early Adulthood Transitions study with Dr Eleanor Winpenny. This longitudinal study will initially focus on the transition out of secondary school, to understand the influence of changes in social environments, local food environments and daily time use on diet and related health behaviours. The project will recruit a cohort of 1,500 adolescents in the last year of secondary school and collect data from these individuals over the next year using novel mobile app-based methods of data collection. We are looking for an enthusiastic and talented post-doctoral Research Associate to develop and conduct this research.
Look out for the job advert for further information (due by the end of July) or please get in touch with the project lead, Dr Eleanor Winpenny (Eleanor.Winpenny@mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk)
Mandala Consortium Research Fellow positions at LSHTM
The Mandala Consortium is focusing on transforming urban food systems for planet. Led by the MRC Epidemiology Unit, it brings together internationally renowned teams from the Universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, Warwick, Exeter, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Research Fellow in Data Science/Software Engineer
The successful candidate will have a higher degree, ideally a PhD, that utilizes advanced data science or software engineering/development methods. Experience in the linkage and analysis of spatially referenced data, and in large-scale database management are also required.
- Closing date: 26 August 2021
- Full details: https://jobs.lshtm.ac.uk/vacancy.aspx?ref=PHP-PHES-2021-15
Research Fellow in Epidemiology & Population Health
The successful candidate will have a higher degree, ideally a PhD, that utilizes advanced quantitative methods in epidemiology, medical statistics, public health, quantitative social science or a related subject. Knowledge and understanding of design and analysis of population surveys, as well as training in advanced quantitative methods, are required.
- Closing date: 26 August 2021
- Full details: https://jobs.lshtm.ac.uk/vacancy.aspx?ref=PHP-PHES-2021-14
Our latest publications
The following papers have been published since the last CEDAR Bulletin. All are Open Access.
You can search all CEDAR publications 2008 to 2020 by journal, author, publication year and keywords on our new publications database: cedar-publications.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk
We welcome feedback on this new database to email@example.com
Public and global health
- Evaluation of the Dissemination of the South African 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Birth to 5 Years. Draper CE, Silubonde TM, Mukoma G, van Sluijs EMF. Int J Environ Res Public Health.
- Excess deaths associated with covid-19 pandemic in 2020: age and sex disaggregated time series analysis in 29 high income countries. Islam N, Shkolnikov VM, Acosta RJ, Klimkin I, Kawachi I, Irizarry RA, Alicandro G, Khunti K, Yates T, Jdanov DA, White M, Lewington S, Lacey B. BMJ.
- Interpreting a lateral flow SARS-CoV-2 antigen test. Mytton OT, McCarthy N, Watson J, Whiting P. BMJ.
- Are We Closer to International Consensus on the Term ‘Food Literacy’? A Systematic Scoping Review of Its Use in the Academic Literature (1998–2019). Thompson C, Adams J and Vidgen HA. Nutrients.
- Conceptualizing the commercial determinants of dietary behaviors associated with obesity: A systematic review using principles from critical interpretative synthesis. Chavez-Ugalde Y, Jago R, Toumpakari Z, Egan M, Cummins S, White M, Hulls P, De Vocht F. Obesity Science & Practice.
- Evidence of a health risk ‘signalling effect’ following the introduction of a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. Alvarado M, Penney TL, Unwin N, Murphy MM, Adams J. Food Policy.
- Media representations of opposition to the ‘junk food advertising ban’ on the Transport for London (TfL) network: A thematic content analysis of UK news and trade press. Thompson C, Clary C, Er V, Adams J, Boyland E, Burgoine T, Cornelsen L, de Vocht F, Egan M, Lake AA, Lock K, Mytton O, Petticrew M, White M, Yau A, Cummins S. SSM Popul Health.
- Sociodemographic differences in self-reported exposure to high fat, salt and sugar food and drink advertising: a cross-sectional analysis of 2019 UK panel data. Yau A, Adams J, Boyland EJ, Burgoine T, Cornelsen L, de Vocht F, Egan M, Er V, Lake AA, Lock K, Mytton O, Petticrew M, Thompson C, White M, Cummins S. BMJ Open.
- Socioeconomic inequalities in food outlet access through an online food delivery service in England: A cross-sectional descriptive analysis. Keeble M, Adams J, Bishop TRP, Burgoine T. Applied Geography.
- The Action Scales Model: A conceptual tool to identify key points for action within complex adaptive systems. Nobles JD, Radley D, Mytton OT; Whole Systems Obesity programme team. Perspect Public Health.
- A school-based, peer-led programme to increase physical activity among 13- to 14-year-old adolescents: the GoActive cluster RCT. Corder KL, Brown HE, Croxson CHD, Jong ST, Sharp SJ, Vignoles A, Wilkinson PO, Wilson ECF, van Sluijs EMF. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library.
- Cycling behaviour in 17 countries across 6 continents: levels of cycling, who cycles, for what purpose, and how far? Goel R, Goodman A, Aldred R, Nakamura R, Tatah L, Totaro Garcia L, Diomedi-Zapata B, de Sa TH, Tiwari G, de Nazelle A, Tainio M, Buehler R, Götschi T, Woodcock J. Transport Reviews.
- Effect of COVID-19 response policies on walking behavior in US cities. Hunter RF, Garcia L, de Sa TH, Zapata-Diomedi B, Millett C, Woodcock J, Pentland A’, Moro E. Nat Commun.
- Health, environmental and distributional impacts of cycling uptake: The model underlying the Propensity to Cycle tool for England and Wales. Woodcock J, Aldred R, Lovelace R, Strain T, Goodman A. Journal of Transport & Health.
- Health impacts of changes in travel patterns in Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, Ghana. Garcia L, Johnson R, Johnson A, Abbas A, Goel R, Tatah L, Damsere-Derry J, Kyere-Gyeabour E, Tainio M, de Sá TH, Woodcock J. Environ Int.
- Identifying local authority need for, and uptake of, school-based physical activity promotion in England-a cluster analysis. Venkatraman T, Honeyford K, Ram B, M F van Sluijs E, Costelloe CE, Saxena S. J Public Health (Oxf).
- Impact of The Daily Mile on children’s physical and mental health, and educational attainment in primary schools: iMprOVE cohort study protocol. Ram B, Chalkley A, van Sluijs E, Phillips R, Venkatraman T, Hargreaves DS, Viner RM, Saxena S. BMJ Open.
- The school policy, social, and physical environment and change in adolescent physical activity: An exploratory analysis using the LASSO. Foubister C, van Sluijs EMF, Vignoles A, Wilkinson P, Wilson ECF, Croxson CHD, Brown HE, Corder K. PLoS One.
- Travel Levels Before and After COVID-19 Control Measures in Cambridge, UK. Patterson R, Ogilvie D, Panter J. Findings.
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