In this issue
- Sugar purchased in soft drinks fell 10% following introduction of industry levy
- Calorie labelling: the level is in the detail
- Successive governments’ approach to obesity policies has destined them to fail
- New consortium to deliver systems research to transform urban food system
- American Diabetes Association presents prestigious award to Prof Nick Wareham
- Also happening at the MRC Epidemiology Unit
- Promoting Health through Sustainable Urban Development – 17 March
- From a pragmatic weight management intervention to bariatric surgery – 23 March
- Involving people in telehealth research during the COVID-19 pandemic – 30 March
Sugar purchased in soft drinks fell 10% following introduction of industry levy
The amount of sugar purchased by households through soft drinks fell by 10% in the year following the introduction of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy, according to new CEDAR-led research.
While the volume of soft drinks purchased did not change, the amount of sugar in those drinks was 30g lower per household per week, which the researchers say represents a ‘win-win’ for public health and industry.
Researchers analysed data from the Kantar Worldpanel, in which participating households are asked to record all food and drink purchases brought into the home. This included approximately 31 million purchases of drinks, confectionery and toiletries from March 2014 to March 2019. The researchers compared purchases in March 2019 against an estimate based on pre-existing trends of how the purchases would look had the levy not taken place at all.
- Read the full story
- Pell, D et al. Changes in British household purchases of soft drinks associated with implementation of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy: a controlled interrupted time series analysis. BMJ; 11 Mar 2021; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.n254. www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n254
- This story was widely covered in in the media, including BBC Breakfast News (6 minutes in), BBC Radio Cambridgeshire (2hr 24 in), Mail Online, Independent, Sky News, Telegraph (£), The Times (£), The Grocer (£) – among over 300 other outlets.
Calorie labelling – the level is in the detail
Restaurants’ approaches to displaying nutritional information online
The UK Government has proposed mandatory in-store calorie labelling for large food businesses with over 250 employees as part of its most recent obesity strategy.
The current plan indicates that the labelling requirement will extend to online sales, though specific details of how calorie information should be displayed on websites have not been finalised.
Studies suggest presentation format may change how effective menu labelling is in influencing customers’ selections. Current practice varies widely, with information provided alongside individual products, on separate pages in the form of tables and lists for all products, and in downloadable pdfs.
In a new Evidence Brief, we take a closer look at why this matters:
Successive governments’ approach to obesity policies has destined them to fail, say researchers
Government obesity policies in England over the past three decades have largely failed because of problems with implementation, lack of learning from past successes or failures, and a reliance on trying to persuade individuals to change their behaviour rather than tackling unhealthy environments.
Successive governments have tried to tackle the obesity problem: this research published in The Milbank Quarterly identified 14 government-led obesity strategies containing 689 policies in England from 1992-2020.
Many proposed strategies were similar or exactly the same over multiple years, often with no reference to previous initiatives. Policies were largely not proposed in a way that could readily lead to effective implementation.
- Read the full story
- The Conversation blog by lead author Dolly Theis: English obesity policies have long been unfit for purpose, but they are improving
- Dolly R Z Theis, Martin White. Is obesity policy in England fit for purpose? Analysis of government strategies and policies, 1992-2020. Milbank Quarterly; 19 Jan 2021; https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0009.12498
New consortium funded to deliver systems research programme to transform urban food system
CEDAR researchers are leading one of four multi-million pound interdisciplinary research programmes awarded funding to support the transformation of the UK food system.
The research is being funded through the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF). Each of the five-year programmes will address issues such as obesity, sustainable agriculture and global warming, placing healthy people and a healthy natural environment at their centre.
The Mandala Consortium
The Mandala Consortium, led by Professor Martin White will focus on transforming urban food systems for planetary and population health. Centred on the city of Birmingham, this consortium brings together internationally renowned teams from the Universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, Warwick, Exeter, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
American Diabetes Association presents prestigious award to Prof Nick Wareham
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) announced the recipients of the 2021 National Scientific and Health Care Achievement Awards, which “recognize academics, health care providers and educators who have contributed to tangible advances in the field of diabetes care and research. Each of these leaders have unwavering dedication to achieving the mission of the ADA: life free of diabetes and all its burdens.”
MRC Epidemiology Unit and CEDAR Director Professor Nick Wareham received the 2021 Kelly West Award for Outstanding Achievement in Epidemiology. This award recognises his work and leadership over many years to improve understanding of the causes of diabetes, obesity and related metabolic disorders, and translate this epidemiological knowledge into policy.
Also happening at the MRC Epidemiology Unit
Some other stories making the news at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, which leads CEDAR:
New study finds shared origins for individual chronic diseases in multimorbidity. A new study has identified key risk factors that increase the likelihood of individuals developing not only one but multiple non-communicable diseases, which include cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease and diabetes.
UK Landscape of Prevention Research. A detailed analysis of the UK landscape of prevention research has been published by the Medical Research Council. Prof Nick Wareham, Director of the MRC Epidemiology Unit and Chair of MRC’s Population Health Sciences Group (PHSG); and Dr Gavin Malloch, MRC Programme Manager for Public Health Partnerships, write about the implications of these new findings.
Consortium led by Unit researchers develops open platform to help discover COVID-19 drugs. An international consortium led by MRC researchers has developed an open access platform to help prioritise drug discovery and repurposing efforts for the current COVID-19 pandemic. The platform provides information on the genetic variation of host proteins involved in SARS-CoV-2 infection, based on analysis of genetic and proteomic data from 10,708 Fenland Study participants.
Type 2 diabetes weight loss recommendations could be harmful for some, depending on BMI. In this article for The Conversation, Dr Jean Strelitz discuss research showing how advising weight loss to all people with type 2 diabetes may not be the best approach.
Discovery of genetic regulators of human metabolism and health. An international team led by researchers at the MRC Epidemiology Unit has used a cross-platform approach across several large human studies to identify hundreds of novel genetic variants that regulate metabolite levels in the blood.
- More MRC Epidemiology Unit news at www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/news/
ISGlobal Severo Ochoa webinar, 17 March – Promoting Health through Sustainable Urban Development
As part of the ISGlobal Severo Ochoa webinar series Expanding the Scope of Research in Planetary Health in Europe, CEDAR’s Dr James Woodcock will be among the speakers at:
Promoting Health through Sustainable Urban Development
17 March 2021, GMT 14.00 – 16.00 / CET 15.00 – 17.00
More about the ISGlobal Severo Ochoa webinar series
Seminar, 23 March – From a pragmatic weight management intervention to bariatric surgery
All our seminars have now moved online. Past and future seminars, including slides and recordings, are available via www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/seminars/
Subscribe for direct updates via www.cedar.iph.cam.ac.uk/subscribe/
They are free to attend, but please note that you will need to register in advance to attend live.
From a pragmatic weight management intervention to bariatric surgery
23 March 2021, 11:00 – 12:00 GMT
Full details and registration here
Cambridge Festival 2021 – Involving people in telehealth research during the COVID-19 pandemic – 30 March
The new, interdisciplinary Cambridge Festival (replacing the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Festival of Ideas) will take place from 26 March to 4 April 2021. The festival will primarily be digital in 2021 – to enable wide-reaching engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MRC Epidemiology Unit presents:
Involving people in telehealth research during the COVID-19 pandemic – The challenges of scale, engagement and inclusivity
30 March, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Online, free
Advances in online platforms, devices and smartphone technology create opportunities for researchers to continue research and engage with study participants whilst maintaining COVID-19 physical distancing rules.
In this Cambridge Festival 2021 event MRC Epidemiology Unit scientists Dr Kirsten Rennie and Dr Rebecca Richards will discuss how telehealth approaches are transforming how we are conducting research, with two examples; how we are assessing people’s health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic and in a weight management intervention.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Public and planetary health
- Can public sector community health workers deliver a nurturing care intervention in South Africa? The Amagugu Asakhula feasibility study. Klingberg S, van Sluijs EMF, Jong ST, Draper CE. Pilot Feasibility Stud.
- Evaluation of public health interventions from a complex systems perspective: A research methods review. McGill E, Er V, Penney T, Egan M, White M, Meier P, Whitehead M, Lock K, Anderson de Cuevas R, Smith R, Savona N, Rutter H, Marks D, de Vocht F, Cummins S, Popay J, Petticrew M. Soc Sci Med.
- Guidelines for Modeling and Reporting Health Effects of Climate Change Mitigation Actions. Hess JJ, Ranadive N, Boyer C, Aleksandrowicz L, Anenberg SC, … Woodcock J, Woodward A, Xie Y, Zhang Y, Ebi KL. Environ Health Perspect.
- Qualitative process evaluation from a complex systems perspective: A systematic review and framework for public health evaluators. McGill E, Marks D, Er V, Penney T, Petticrew M, Egan M. PLoS Med.
- The public health implications of the Paris Agreement: a modelling study. Hamilton I, Kennard H, McGushin A, Höglund-Isaksson L, Kiesewetter G, Lott M, Milner J, Purohit P, Rafaj P, Sharma R, Springmann M, Woodcock J, Watts N. Lancet Planet Health.
- Anticipatory changes in British household purchases of soft drinks associated with the announcement of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy: A controlled interrupted time series analysis. Pell D, Penney TL, Mytton O, Briggs A, Cummins S, Rayner M, Rutter H, Scarborough P, Sharp SJ, Smith RD, White M, Adams J. PLoS Med.
- Changes in soft drinks purchased by British households associated with the UK soft drinks industry levy: controlled interrupted time series analysis. Pell D, Mytton O, Penney TL, Briggs A, Cummins S, Penn-Jones C, Rayner M, Rutter H, Scarborough P, Sharp SJ, Smith RD, White M, Adams J. BMJ.
- Independent and combined associations between fast-food outlet exposure and genetic risk for obesity: a population-based, cross-sectional study in the UK. Burgoine T, Monsivais P, Sharp SJ, Forouhi NG, Wareham NJ. BMC Med.
- Is Obesity Policy in England Fit for Purpose? Analysis of Government Strategies and Policies, 1992-2020. Theis DRZ, White M. Milbank Q.
- ‘Let them choose not to eat cake…’: Public health ethics, effectiveness, and equity in government obesity strategy. Coggon J, Adams J. Future Healthc J.
- A natural experimental study of new walking and cycling infrastructure across the United Kingdom: The Connect2 programme. Le Gouais A, Panter JR, Cope A, Powell JE, Bird EL, Woodcock J, Ogilvie D, Foley L, iConnect consortium. J Transp Health.
- Associations between mentally-passive and mentally-active sedentary behaviours during adolescence and psychological distress during adulthood. Werneck AO, Hoare E, Stubbs B, van Sluijs EMF, Corder K. Prev Med.
- Children’s moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on weekdays versus weekend days: a multi-country analysis. Brazendale K, Beets MW, Armstrong B, Weaver RG, Hunt ET, Pate RR, Brusseau TA, Bohnert AM, Olds T, Tassitano RM, Tenorio MCM, Garcia J, Andersen LB, Davey R, Hallal PC, Jago R, Kolle E, Kriemler S, Kristensen PL, Kwon S, Puder JJ, Salmon J, Sardinha LB, van Sluijs EMF; International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD) Collaborators. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act.
- Effective and resource-efficient strategies for recruiting families in physical activity, sedentary behavior, nutrition, and obesity prevention research: A systematic review with expert opinion. Guagliano JM, Morton KL, Hughes C, van Sluijs EMF. Obes Rev.
- Exploring influences on evaluation practice: a case study of a national physical activity programme. Fynn JF, Hardeman W, Milton K, Jones A. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act.
- Major investment in active travel in Outer London: Impacts on travel behaviour, physical activity, and health. Aldred R, Woodcock J, Goodman A. J Transp Health
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