In this issue
News and views
- Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2020 during COVID-19
- Integration of physical activity promotion within primary and secondary care settings
- Lancet series highlights need to improve physical activity worldwide
- Early adulthood education and employment affect later cardiovascular health
- Also happening at the MRC Epidemiology Unit
Jobs and opportunities
- Database specialist / Data manager
- PhD Studentships in Epidemiology or Public Health Research
- MPhil in Population Health Sciences (PHS)
CEDAR Bulletin is merging with epigram
From the beginning of 2022, CEDAR Bulletin will be integrating with epigram, the newsletter from the MRC Epidemiology Unit.
This means there will now be a single quarterly newsletter to let you know about our latest news, research and events.
This will still cover all the news you are used to from CEDAR Bulletin, and will also allow us to share more from across all our research programmes that relate to diet, physical activity and other aspects of public health, obesity and diabetes prevention.
You can read the most recent annual epigram here, and we look forward to sharing the new quarterly version from early next year.
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Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2020 during COVID-19
Public Health England has published the report Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity in 2020: a follow up study during COVID-19. The study aimed to describe and assess the impact of the pandemic on the diet and physical activity of people in the UK by following up participants who had previously taken part in the National Diet and Nutrition Survey Rolling Programme (NDNS RP).
Key findings include:
- Participants living in households that were worried about not being able to afford food in the next month consumed less fruit and vegetables, less fish, and more sugar sweetened soft drinks than participants from households that were not worried.
- The percentage of adults aged 19-64 consuming five fruit or vegetables a day declined.
- Across all groups the proportion of consumers of oily fish fell.
- There was a small decrease across all groups in the proportion of consumers of sugar sweetened drinks — consistent with a downward trend in recent years.
- In men but not women aged 19-64 there was an increase in the percentage reporting alcohol consumption — the opposite of trends seen in the NDNS RP.
- Reported physical activity was higher on average in this study than in the previous NDNS RP assessments for women but not for men. Increases in home activities (such as gardening and DIY) and leisure activity were the main contributors.
Find out more:
- Read the full story
- NDNS: Diet and physical activity – a follow-up study during COVID-19 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Integration of physical activity promotion within primary and secondary care settings – Public Health England report
Public Health England (PHE) has published the report Integration of physical activity promotion within primary and secondary care settings: Rapid evidence review and lessons from practice case studies. The report, which was led by researchers at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, examined the factors that influence successful integration of physical activity into UK healthcare settings for people living with one or more long-term condition.
Dr Kirsten Rennie from the MRC Epidemiology Unit, who led the project said:
“Our findings highlight that physical activity initiatives are often driven forward by highly motivated individuals, frequently frontline healthcare staff inspired by seeing the need in their patient population. Physical activity interventions were effective because they were responsive to the needs of patients and delivery staff. We were able to identify some key enablers and recommendations for people setting up a physical activity service, and for broader integration of physical activity promotion into the healthcare system.”
- Read more
- Read the full report: Integration of physical activity promotion within primary and secondary care settings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- A longer version of the report is available in the University of Cambridge Repository
Lancet series highlights need to improve physical activity worldwide
Our researchers are among scientists from across the world who contributed to The Lancet 2021 series on physical activity, launched ahead of the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
In the past decade, not enough progress has been made to improve physical activity worldwide. Overall deaths associated with inactivity remain at more than 5 million people per year. No progress has been made to improve adolescent physical activity since 2012, with eight out of ten people still not meeting WHO activity guidelines.
The Olympic Games remain a missed opportunity to increase physical activity in host countries. While lockdowns and restrictions may well have decreased physical activity levels, people who are physically active are less likely to experience severe symptoms and hospitalisations from COVID-19.
The authors call for urgent efforts to improve physical activity levels in key populations, and recognise the potential to incorporate population health initiatives into future mass sporting events such as the Olympics.
Early adulthood education and employment experiences affect later cardiovascular health
New research has found that education and employment experiences in early adulthood contribute to cardiovascular health inequalities in later life, independent of occupation and family income in mid-adulthood.
Those who are have less education and are in lower status jobs tend to be less healthy and have shorter life expectancy on average than the more privileged.
In this new study, researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Bristol and UCL Social Research Institute found that those who spent a longer time in education, going on to employment in professional or managerial roles during early adulthood, had better cardiovascular health more than 20 years later (at age 46) than other groups. Importantly this association wasn’t entirely because of a higher income or higher level job at age 46, suggesting an independent and long-term association of early adulthood influences with health.
- Read the full story
- Full paper: Early adulthood socioeconomic trajectories contribute to inequalities in adult cardiovascular health, independently of childhood and adulthood socioeconomic position. Winpenny E. et al. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 06 August 2021. DOI:10.1136/jech-2021-216611
Also happening at the MRC Epidemiology Unit
Other stories making the news at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, which leads CEDAR:
How our brain uses nutritional state to regulate growth and age at puberty. Scientists have discovered how a receptor in the brain, called MC3R, detects the nutritional state of the body and regulates the timing of puberty and rate of growth in children and increases in lean muscle mass. These findings, published in Nature, may explain how humans have been growing taller and reaching sexual maturity earlier over the past century. Over the 20th century, average height increased by about 10 cm in the UK, and up to 20 cm in other countries.
Filling the gaps: connecting genes to diseases through proteins. Hundreds of connections between different human diseases have been uncovered through their shared origin in our genome by an international research team led by Unit scientists, challenging the categorisation of diseases by organ, symptoms, or clinical speciality. A new study published in Science has generated data on thousands of proteins circulating in our blood and combined this with genetic data to produce a map showing how genetic differences that affect these proteins link together seemingly diverse as well as related diseases.
Researchers identify new genes linked to longer reproductive lifespan in women. Scientists have identified nearly 300 gene variations that influence reproductive lifespan in women. Additionally, in mice, they have successfully manipulated several key genes associated with these variants to extend their reproductive lifespan. These findings substantially increase our knowledge of the reproductive ageing process, as well as providing ways to improve the prediction of which women might reach menopause earlier than others.
Young adults at highest risk of weight gain. Young adults aged 18 to 24 are at the highest risk of becoming overweight or developing obesity in the next decade of their life compared to adults in any other age group, and obesity prevention policies should target this group, finds a new study co-led by researchers at the MRC Epidemiology Unit and University College London. The study found that being a young adult is a more important risk factor for weight gain than sex, ethnicity, geographic region, or socioeconomic area characteristics. The risk of gaining weight is not only highest in the youngest adult age group, but it steadily decreases with age.
More MRC Epidemiology Unit news at www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/news/
Vacancy: Database Specialist / Data Manager
An exciting opportunity for a Database Specialist to join the MRC Epidemiology Unit. at the University of Cambridge.
The Database Specialist will work within the Unit’s Data Management Team providing database development and operational support for epidemiological research studies. The work focuses on the collection, processing, visualisation, distribution and management of data. This role will work alongside other specialists using database scripting (SQL), programming, web-technology and data management tools to support a varied portfolio of work. You 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.
- Closing date 7 November 2021
- Informal enquiries to Tony Webb, Senior Data Manager
- Full details www.jobs.cam.ac.uk/job/30988/
PhD Studentships in Epidemiology or Public Health Research
MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge
The MRC Epidemiology Unit is excited to announce the availability of PhD student places. PhD students are encouraged to develop and conduct their own research relevant to any of the Department’s nine research programmes:
- Aetiology and Mechanisms of Diabetes and Related Metabolic Disorders of Later Life
- Early Life Aetiology and Mechanisms of Diabetes and Related Metabolic Disorders
- Nutritional Epidemiology
- Physical Activity Epidemiology
- Behavioural Epidemiology and Interventions in Young People
- Prevention of Diabetes and Related Metabolic Disorders in High Risk Groups
- Population Health Interventions
- Public Health Modelling
- Global Diet and Physical Activity Research
We invite applicants to contact potential supervisors directly to discuss your research interests. A list of available PhD projects is provided at www.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk/work-and-study/studentships/. Alternatively, you are welcome to formulate your own PhD topic, coherent with the overall goal of the Unit and any of our programmes.
- Closing date: 6 January 2022
- Provisional date for interviews: Thursday 27 January 2022.
- Full details here
MPhil in Population Health Sciences (PHS)
Now open for applications
The MPhil in Population Health Sciences (PHS) is a postgraduate master’s degree course that includes the academic disciplines of epidemiology, global health, health data science, infectious diseases, public health, and primary care research. The MPhil builds on and replaces the previous MPhils in Primary Care Research, Public Health, and Epidemiology, which were taught for 6, 15, and 27 years respectively.
The course is open to graduates and other qualified candidates who wish to pursue a research, practice or leadership career in population health sciences.
- Full details and information about applying at www.phs.masters.cam.ac.uk/
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 2021 by journal, author, publication year and keywords on our publications database: cedar-publications.mrc-epid.cam.ac.uk
We welcome feedback on this new database to firstname.lastname@example.org
Public and global health
- A new framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions: update of Medical Research Council guidance. Skivington K, Matthews L, Simpson SA, Craig P, Baird J, Blazeby JM, Boyd KA, Craig N, French DP, McIntosh E, Petticrew M, Rycroft-Malone J, White M, Moore L. BMJ.
- Framework for the development and evaluation of complex interventions: gap analysis, workshop and consultation-informed update. Skivington K, Matthews L, Simpson SA, Craig P, Baird J, Blazeby JM, Boyd KA, Craig N, French DP, McIntosh E, Petticrew M, Rycroft-Malone J, White M, Moore L. Health Technol Assess.
- Sharing believable stories: A qualitative study exploring the relevance of case studies for influencing the creation of healthy environments. Le Gouais A, Foley L, Ogilvie D, Panter J, Guell C. Health Place.
- Stakeholder experiences of using online spatial data visualisation tools for local public health decision support: A qualitative study. Armstrong-Moore R, White M, Burgoine T. Health Place.
- The Built Environment and Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: a Review on Quantitative Health Impact Assessments. Thondoo M, Goel R, Tatah L, Naraynen N, Woodcock J, Nieuwenhuijsen M. Curr Environ Health Rep.
- Use of natural experimental studies to evaluate 20mph speed limits in two major UK cities. Milton K, Kelly MP, Baker G, Cleland C, Cope A, Craig N, Foster C, Hunter R, Kee F, Kelly P, Nightingale G, Turner K, Williams AJ, Woodcock J, Jepson R. J Transp Health.
- Automatic classification of takeaway food outlet cuisine type using machine (deep) learning. Bishop TRP, von Hinke S, Hollingsworth B, Lake AA, Brown H, Burgoine T. Machine Learning with Applications.
- Foodwork in the United Kingdom from 1983 to 2014: A compositional data analysis of repeat cross-sectional time use surveys. Clifford Astbury C, Penney TL, Foley L, Adams J. Appetite.
- How should we evaluate sweetened beverage tax policies? A review of worldwide experience. Ng SW, Colchero MA, White M. BMC Public Health.
- National food strategy: what’s in it for population health? Adams J. BMJ.
- Newspaper coverage of food insecurity in UK, 2016-2019: a multi-method analysis. Yau A, Singh-Lalli H, Forde H, Keeble M, White M, Adams J. BMC Public Health.
- Association of mentally-active and mentally-passive sedentary behaviour with depressive symptoms among adolescents. Werneck AO, Hoare E, Stubbs B, van Sluijs EMF, Corder K. J Affect Disord.
- Early adulthood socioeconomic trajectories contribute to inequalities in adult cardiovascular health, independently of childhood and adulthood socioeconomic position. Winpenny EM, Howe LD, van Sluijs EMF, Hardy R, Tilling K. J Epidemiol Community Health.
- Physical activity behaviours in adolescence: current evidence and opportunities for intervention. van Sluijs EMF, Ekelund U, Crochemore-Silva I, Guthold R, Ha A, Lubans D, Oyeyemi AL, Ding D, Katzmarzyk PT. Lancet
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