Understanding lifestyles, reducing risk factors and combating chronic disease
- How can diet and physical activity be used to combat a range of chronic diseases?
- What are the health implications of changing lifestyles in developed and developing countries?
- How can research on sleep, eating and exercise optimise the physical and mental health and well-being of different populations?
- What are effective behaviour change strategies in relation to physical and mental health?
Behavioural medicine has developed over recent years as an interdisciplinary field. It concerns social, psychological, behavioural and biomedical knowledge relevant to health and illness, and the integration of these perspectives.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) of lifestyle such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are amongst the leading causes of death in developed countries and they are having an increasing role in developing countries. It is recognized that major contributing factors to what is known as the 'epidemiological transition' are the behavioural and nutritional transitions characterised by decreasing levels of physical activity and the adoption of "western" high fat, low fibre diets.
Within the School, research is being undertaken on various aspects of NCDs from identifying their aetiology during infancy and childhood, and consequences in adulthood and old age, to the effect of physical activity and nutritional interventions in preventing the development of risk factors.
Key research areas include: nutrition, appetite control and eating behaviour in relation to obesity, activity-nutrition interactions and eating disorders; aspects of human sleep in relation to sleep function, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders; the determinants, outcomes and behaviour change strategies for sedentary (sitting) behaviours; and optimisation of physical activity strategies for health in all age groups, including the measurement of active and sedentary behaviour.
With an emphasis on applied research impacting personal, public and occupational health, much of this work is conducted in collaboration with clinical partners and government agencies, and involves the development of programmes and interventions. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of these interventions is to encourage people to adopt them as part of their lifestyle, and as such a major part of our work is concerned with studying behavioural change from childhood through adulthood to later life. Dissemination and translation work through the BHFNC is an important element of our work in physical activity.
Focusing on ‘lifestyle’ physical activities which provide individuals with means of protecting or enhancing health.
Undertaking research and consultancy in improving health and safety in the workplace.
Based within the Sleep Research Centre, and representing a unique collaboration between researchers, clinicians and service providers in the UK.