PHRC Phase 2 (2011-2019) projects – Projects related to multiple risk behaviours

Multiple risk behaviours among parents with dependent children

Lead investigator

Professor Hilary Graham, Department of Health Sciences, University of York


Promoting healthier lifestyles is at the heart of England’s public health strategy. To date, research and policy have tended to focus separately on smoking habits, dietary habits, alcohol consumption and physical activity. However, the majority of adults engage in multiple risk behaviours (e.g. they smoke and are physically inactive) and this clustering of risks is socially patterned. Over 40% of the population lives in a household with dependent children, a population sub-group characterised by increasing social diversity and a heightened risk of poverty. Parental lifestyles are not only important determinants of adult health; they also influence the health and health behaviour of children.

Aims, methods and contribution

To support the development of policies to improve health and reduce health inequalities by investigating multiple risk behaviours among parents living with children.

The project will undertake analyses of two UK surveys, the Health Survey for England (HSE) and Understanding Society, the new UK household longitudinal study (UKHLS). Both surveys collect data on adult smoking habits, dietary habits, alcohol consumption and physical activity, together with information on children. The project will capitalise on the unique strengths of the two studies: the most detailed national information on the four health behaviours (HSE) and on social diversity and disadvantage (UKHLS).


  • Professor Catherine Law, Centre for Paediatric Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCL Institute of Child Health
  • Dr Lucinda Platt, Senior Lecturer, Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex
  • Heather Wardle, Research Director, Health Research Group, National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), London

01/09/2011 - 31/03/2015 (43 months)