PHRC Phase 2 (2011-2019) projects ā€“ Projects related to diet and obesity

Informing prevention strategies on obesity and sedentary lifestyles

Principal investigator

Professor Christine Power, Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology, Institute of Child Health, University College London


Health-damaging effects of obesity and sedentary lifestyles are widely recognised, hence the need to take preventive action now. Much remains to be learned about how best to support individuals sustain active lifestyle and avoid excessive weight gain and obesity over time. During early adulthood, activity levels tend to decline and Body mass Index (BMI) increases, but reasons for these trends are unclear. It is known that behaviours, such as smoking, physical activity and diet, cluster within individuals and within social groups, yet research to date mostly ignores the clustering of factors over time.


This project aims to inform policies to prevent obesity onset and to promote and sustain active lifestyles. We will establish: (a) the role of accumulating health behaviours and other influences over different life-stages on adiposity (indicated by BMI); and (b) what influences how physically active individuals are and whether they sustain activity over their adult life.


Secondary analysis of the 1958 British birth cohort study (nā‰ˆ17,000 at birth), spanning child to adulthood (50y), with repeated measures of obesity and activity, other health behaviours, emotional /sleep disturbance, socioeconomic, family, work and other characteristics. Analytic approaches will emphasise risk accumulation and risk modification from child to adulthood.


  • Professor Ashley Adamson, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Martin White, University of Cambridge

01/07/2012 - 30/06/2016 (48 months)