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Healthy Communities Publications

Mixed methods feasibility and usability testing of a childhood obesity risk estimation tool

Grove G, Ziauddeen N, Roderick P, Vassilev I, Appleton JV, Smith D, Alwan NA

A Childhood Obesity Risk Estimation tool (SLOPE CORE) has been developed based on prediction models using routinely available maternity and early childhood data to estimate risk of childhood obesity at 4-5 years. This study aims to test the feasibility, acceptability and usability of SLOPE CORE within an enhanced health visiting (EHV) service in the UK, as one context in which this tool could be utilised.

September 2023

Healthy Communities

The interplay between social and food environments on UK adolescents' food choices: implications for policy

Shaw S, Muir S, Strömmer S, Crozier S, Cooper C, Smith D, Barker M, Vogel C

Factors from social and food environments can influence the food choices of adolescents in ways not experienced during childhood. Evidence suggests these two environments influence adolescents' food choices independently, but there is limited knowledge of how the interplay between these environments influence adolescents' diets. An enhanced understanding of this interplay surrounding adolescent food choice could aid the development of more nuanced interventions and policies. 

This qualitative study involved 13 online focus groups with adolescents (n = 45) aged 11-18 years, attending secondary school or college in England, UK. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Social experiences which accompanied eating were perceived as more important than the food itself, and fast-food outlets were described as uniquely suited to facilitating these interactions. Young people wanted to spend their money on foods they considered worthwhile, but this did not always relate to the most affordable foods. Adolescents wanted to put little effort into making food decisions and appreciated factors that helped them make quick decisions such as prominent placement and eye-catching promotions on foods they wanted to buy. Chain food outlets were valued as they offered familiar and frequently advertised foods, which minimized the effort needed for food decisions. Adolescents' sense of autonomy underpinned all themes. 

Participants described having limited opportunities to make their own food choices and they did not want to waste these buying unappealing 'healthy' foods. Interventions and government policies should align with adolescents' experiences and values relating to food choice to ensure that they are effective with this important age group.

August 2023

Healthy Communities

Activity Behaviors Before and During Pregnancy Are Associated With Women's Device-Measured Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in Later Parenthood: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis

Hesketh KR, Baird J, Crozier SR, Godfrey KM, Harvey NC, Cooper C, van Sluijs EMF

Purpose: To explore how activity behaviors before/during pregnancy relate to those in later parenthood, we assessed associations between sitting and moderate-/strenuous exercise before/during pregnancy, and sedentary time (SED) and moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) 4-7 years postpartum ("later parenthood").

August 2023

Healthy Communities

Prediction of childhood overweight and obesity at age 10-11: findings from the Studying Lifecourse Obesity PrEdictors and the Born in Bradford cohorts

Ziauddeen N, Roderick PJ, Santorelli G, Alwan NA

In England, 41% of children aged 10-11 years live with overweight or obesity. Identifying children at risk of developing overweight or obesity may help target early prevention interventions. We aimed to develop and externally validate prediction models of childhood overweight and obesity at age 10-11 years using routinely collected weight and height measurements at age 4-5 years and maternal and early-life health data.

August 2023

Healthy Communities

Long Covid active case finding study protocol: A co-produced community-based pilot within the STIMULATE-ICP study (Symptoms, Trajectory, Inequalities and Management: Understanding Long-COVID to Address and Transform Existing Integrated Care Pathways)

Alwan NA, Clutterbuck D, Pantelic M, Hayer J, Fisher L, Hishmeh L, Heightman M, Allsopp G, Wootton D, Khan A, Hastie C, Jackson M, Rayner C, Brown D, Parrett E, Jones G, Smith K, Clarke R, Mcfarland S, Gabbay M, Banerjee A

Background and aim: Long Covid is a significant public health concern with potentially negative implications for health inequalities. We know that those who are already socially disadvantaged in society are more exposed to COVID-19, experience the worst health outcomes and are more likely to suffer economically. We also know that these groups are more likely to experience stigma and have negative healthcare experiences even before the pandemic. However, little is known about disadvantaged groups' experiences of Long Covid, and preliminary evidence suggests they may be under-represented in those who access formal care. We will conduct a pilot study in a defined geographical area in London, United Kingdom to test the feasibility of a community-based approach of identifying Long Covid cases that have not been clinically diagnosed and have not been referred to Long Covid specialist services. We will explore the barriers to accessing recognition, care, and support, as well as experiences of stigma and perceived discrimination.

July 2023

COVID-19, Healthy Communities

Development of a measure of dietary quality for the UK Biobank

Montague C, D'Angelo S, Harvey N, Vogel C, Baird J

Background: Previous studies of the UK Biobank have examined intake of single food items and their association with health outcomes. Our aim was to develop a dietary quality score and examine the relationship between this score and markers of cardiometabolic health.

Methods: Principal component analysis was performed on dietary data from UK Biobank participants. Linear regression was used to analyse the relationship between diet and cardiometabolic health.

July 2023

Healthy Communities

A systematic review of the effectiveness of community-based interventions aimed at improving health literacy of parents/carers of children

Belfrage SL, Husted M, Fraser S, Patel S, Faulkner JA

Aim: The aim of this systematic review was to examine the effectiveness of community-based health literacy interventions in improving the health literacy of parents.

Methods: A systematic review of six databases - MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, Embase, and Education Source - was conducted to identify relevant articles. Risk of bias was assessed using version two of the Cochrane risk of bias tool for randomised controlled trials or the Cochrane collaboration risk of bias in non-randomised studies of interventions. The study findings were grouped and synthesised following the synthesis without meta-analysis framework.

June 2023

Healthy Communities

Early life exposure to antibiotics and laxatives in relation to infantile atopic eczema

El-Heis S, Crozier SR, Harvey NC, Healy E, Godfrey KM

The risk of developing atopic eczema is influenced by various events pre-conception, during pregnancy, and throughout the neonatal period. Recent reports have suggested that early life exposure to microbiome altering medications, such as antibiotics and laxatives, could impact the risk of atopic eczema in infancy and childhood. For example, Lin et al., 2022, reported an increased risk of allergic disease in offspring whose mother used laxatives in pregnancy independent of laxative exposure in the offspring but no associations were found for maternal antibiotic use.

As the evidence on this topic is sparse, we aimed to examine whether maternal gestational exposure to antibiotics or laxatives were associated with the risk of atopic eczema in infancy as well as the link between offspring antibiotic exposure in the first 12 months of life and risk of infantile atopic eczema.

May 2023

Healthy Communities

Influences of the community and consumer nutrition environment on the food purchases and dietary behaviors of adolescents: A systematic review

Shaw S,   Barrett M, Shand C, Cooper C, Crozier S, Smith D, Barker M, Vogel C

Adolescence is a period of increased autonomy over decision-making, including food choices, and increased exposure to influences outside the home, including the food environment. This review aims to synthesize the evidence for the influence of community nutrition environments, spatial access to food outlets, and consumer nutrition environments, environments inside food outlets, on adolescent food purchasing and dietary behaviors in high-income countries. Six databases were searched for articles published before January 2023. Results were synthesized using a vote-counting technique and effect direction plots that record the direction of the effect in relation to the anticipated relationship with health. Thirty-four observational and two intervention studies met the inclusion criteria. In the 13 studies assessing adolescent exposure to healthy community nutrition environments, results did not show clear associations with dietary and purchasing outcomes. Thirty studies assessed adolescents' exposure to unhealthy community nutrition environments with the majority (n = 17/30, 57%) reporting results showing that greater exposure to food outlets classified as unhealthy was associated with less healthy food purchases and dietary intakes. Inconsistent results were observed across the seven studies investigating associations with the consumer environment. Further research in these areas, including more high-quality intervention studies, may help to develop policy strategies to improve adolescents' dietary behaviors.

Healthy Communities

Exploring the associations between number of children, multi-partner fertility and risk of obesity at midlife: Findings from the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70)

Article Source: Exploring the associations between number of children, multi-partner fertility and risk of obesity at midlife: Findings from the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70)
Stannard S, Berrington A, Alwan NA (2023) Exploring the associations between number of children, multi-partner fertility


Early parenthood, high parity, and partnership separation are associated with obesity. However, the emergence of non-marital partnerships, serial partnering and childbearing across unions, means that it is important to consider their association to obesity. This paper examined the associations between number of biological children and multi-partner fertility (MPF)—defined as having biological children with more than one partner, with obesity at midlife

Healthy Communities

The role of social networks in the self-management support for young women recently diagnosed with breast cancer

Article Source: The role of social networks in the self-management support for young women recently diagnosed with breast cancer
Vassilev I, Lin SX, Calman L, Turner J, Frankland J, et al. (2023) The role of social networks in the self-management support for young women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. PLOS ONE 18(4): e0282183.

It is widely acknowledged that social network support plays an important role in the quality of life and illness management of breast cancer survivors. However, the factors and processes that enable and sustain such support are less well understood. 

This paper reports baseline findings from a prospective UK national cohort of 1,202 women with breast cancer (aged <50 years at diagnosis), recruited before starting treatment, conducted in 2016–2019. Descriptive, univariate and multivariate regression analyses explored associations between the individual, and network member characteristics, and the type of support provided. 

Social network members provided a substantial level of illness-related, practical and emotional support. Highest contribution was provided by friends, followed by close family members. The social network members of women who did not have a partner provided a higher level of support than those in networks with a partner. Women without higher education were more reliant on close family members than those with higher education, and this was more so for women without a partner. 

Women with higher education without a partner were more reliant on friends and were overall best supported. Women without higher education who did not have a partner were overall least well supported. They had much smaller networks, were highly reliant on close family members, and on high level contributions from all network members. 

There is a need to develop network-based interventions to support people with a cancer diagnosis, prioritising support for the groups identified as most at risk. Interventions that support engagement with existing network members during treatment, and those that help extend such networks after treatment, are likely to be of benefit. A network perspective can help to develop tailored support and interventions by recognising the interactions between network and individual level processes

Healthy Communities

Childhood overweight and obesity at the start of primary school: External validation of pregnancy and early-life prediction models

Nida Ziauddeen,, Paul J. Roderick, Gillian Santorelli, John Wright, Nisreen A. Alwan

June 2022


Tackling the childhood obesity epidemic can potentially be facilitated by risk-stratifying families at an early-stage to receive prevention interventions and extra support. Using data from the Born in Bradford (BiB) cohort, this analysis aimed to externally validate prediction models for childhood overweight and obesity developed as part of the Studying Lifecourse Obesity PrEdictors (SLOPE) study in Hampshire. BiB is a longitudinal multi-ethnic birth cohort study which recruited women at around 28 weeks gestation between 2007 and 2010 in Bradford. The outcome was body mass index (BMI) ≥91st centile for overweight/obesity at 4–5 years. Discrimination was assessed using the area under the receiver operating curve (AUC). Calibration was assessed for each tenth of predicted risk by calculating the ratio of predicted to observed risk and plotting observed proportions versus predicted probabilities. Data were available for 8003 children. The AUC on external validation was comparable to that on development at all stages (early pregnancy, birth, ~1 year and ~2 years). The AUC on external validation ranged between 0.64 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.62 to 0.66) at early pregnancy and 0.82 (95% CI 0.81 to 0.84) at ~2 years compared to 0.66 (95% CI 0.65 to 0.67) and 0.83 (95% CI 0.82 to 0.84) on model development in SLOPE. Calibration was better in the later model stages (early life ~1 year and ~2 years). The SLOPE models developed for predicting childhood overweight and obesity risk performed well on external validation in a UK birth cohort with a different geographical location and ethnic composition.

Healthy Communities

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