To develop realistic and sustainable lifestyle interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of chronic diseases, taking account of the wider determinants of health with a programmatic multidisciplinary approach, capitalising on emerging technologies and big data, and focusing on inequalities.

Research aims

  • To determine the relationships of lifestyle/environmental factors with health outcomes, and how these may differ according to factors such as genetic background, ethnicity, physiological traits, and socio-cultural and economic status, utilising epidemiological, health informatics, and big data analytical approaches
  • To better understand the mechanisms of action of behavioural lifestyle interventions on health outcomes across different population groups
  • To combine social science, epidemiology and mechanistic work to develop realistic and sustainable lifestyle interventions, harnessing the potential of novel technologies (including the SMART campus)
  • To determine the efficacy of lifestyle interventions through randomised and non-randomised study designs
  • To work with clinical and policy partners to implement interventions in practice by using an underpinning behavioural approach
  • To evaluate the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions and lead quality improvement

Improvements in overall health have tended to be at the expense of widening health inequalities. This is because historically we have focused on individual level interventions that require knowledge/education, opt in and cost. There is an urgent need to recognise the wider determinants of health - both in terms of the direct effects of the environment, education and community, and the ways in which these influence behaviour and lifestyle choices.

Isolated interventions are not sufficient; complex problems such as obesity need to have a joined up, multipronged, programmatic approach including higher level interventions (e.g. legislation, taxation) alongside infrastructure investment and individual support. Those individual interventions need to be tailored to hard to reach groups who are often those with the most to gain.

This is recognised in the recent Health of the Public 2040 report and also in the upcoming National Prevention Research Initiative (collaboration of 16 major funders), with a strong focus on larger scale, multi-disciplinary approaches.

Our unique grouping covers the whole translation spectrum linking lifestyle with disease outcomes, from UNDERSTANDING the causes to DEVELOPING effective interventions (including using novel technologies) to EVALUATING them to IMPLEMENTING them. This fits with the future direction of major funders and is highly likely to lead to impact.  The Figure below provides an overview of the LIFE:TIME vision.