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Health and Wellbeing

There are a number of factors that affect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. The World Health Organisation highlights that where we live, our environment, genetics, income, education level and relationships with friends and family all have considerable impacts on our health.

Our research uses consumer data to explore how the physical environment we live in influences our behaviours, and how this affects our health and wellbeing.

The Obesity Network – uniting expertise to inform positive change

Overweight and obesity persist in the UK and place both personal and economic strain on society. The strong association of excess weight with other chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease further increase this burden.

The Obesity Network brings together experts from all over the UK, and beyond, from a range of disciplines in academia, retail, local government and charities to explore and generate ideas to make best use of the wealth of data to inform positive change.

Could loyalty cards improve our public health? LifeInfo Survey

The use of supermarket loyalty cards and mobile phone apps tracking diet or exercise are increasingly pervasive. Not only do they provide a useful service for the user but they also gather information about the habits of individuals.

What if all that data could also be used to feed into public health research that could improve the overall health of the community?

The LifeInfo survey, led by CDRC’s Dr Michelle Morris in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, surveyed 10,000 people about the types of loyalty card or apps they use, and their thoughts on allowing health researchers to access this information and link it with their health records, in the future.

What does supermarket loyalty card data reveal about food purchase behaviours?

Supermarkets gather loyalty card data for marketing purposes but these novel data sources offer great potential for research and policy making. This project, in partnership with Sainsbury’s, explore the use of transaction data to understand the food purchasing behaviours of our population.

Supermarket loyalty card transaction records, linked to back of pack nutrient information, present a novel opportunity to use objective records of food purchases to assess diet at a household level. With a large sample size and multiple transactions, it is possible to review variation in food purchases over time and across different geographical areas.

Why Great Britain’s rural areas may not be as healthy as we think

Research by the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) produced the most detailed investigation into the features of neighborhoods that impact health across the whole of Great Britain.

The interactive map includes a variety of measures of accessibility to environment features such as retails outlets that may be bad for their health (e.g. fast food outlets, pubs, gambling outlets), health services (e.g. GPs, hospitals, dentists) and overall environmental quality (e.g. air quality, green space).

All of these information have also been summarised into the ‘Access to Healthy Assets & Hazards’ (AHAH) index which identifies how ‘healthy’ a neighbourhood is based on this information.

Restricting retail food promotions: implementation challenges could limit policy success

New plans to restrict point-of-sale promotions of less healthy foods and drinks in England, aim to encourage healthier choices. With responsibility for implementation likely falling to food retailers, it is important to understand feasibility challenges, to ensure policy success.

Researchers from CDRC and LIDA applied the rules in the policy proposal to a database containing 45,000 food and drink products, to understand implementation feasibility from a retailer perspective.  They  found the data available to retailers to be insufficient to apply the rules set out by the proposal. This would see some products incorrectly promoted, and vice versa.

A classification for English Primary Schools using open data

CDRC researchers, Dr Stephen Clark, Dr Nik Lomax and Professor Mark Birkin have developed a new classification for English primary schools to encourage better collaboration and enable more nuanced benchmarking. 

England has statutory regulations in place that ensure state funded schools deliver broadly the same curriculum. However there still exists a wide range of contexts in which this education takes place, including: the management of schools; how the schools chose to spend their budgets; individual policies in regards to staffing, behaviour and attendance, and perhaps most importantly, the composition of the pupil population in the school. Given these contexts, one outcome of interest is the attainment profile of schools, and it is important that this performance is judged in context, for the benefit of pupils, parents and schools.  

Unsafe inhaler prescribing, social demographics, and the COVID-19 lockdown

Panic prescribing of inhalers at the onset of the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020 meant that suppliers started running out of stock for specific brands of inhalers, causing a potential risk for asthma/COPD patients. However, what are unsafe inhaler prescribing practices, and where do these occur under normal circumstances?

In this project, we used a data-driven approach to explore inhaler prescription patterns using data from Open Prescribing. First, we used statistical means to identify GP practices that could previously have been at risk of unfavourable prescribing practices, and then look at these in the context of levels social deprivation and panic prescribing seen at the beginning of lockdown.

Understanding barriers to linking novel lifestyle data for health research, results from the LifeInfo Survey

Modern technologies mean vast amounts of data are generated about individual diet and exercise patterns, these data could help researchers understand and fight disease. The LifeInfo Survey consulted the public on their willingness to share data from supermarket loyalty cards and mobile phone apps, websites or wearable devices for health research. With over seven thousand responses, this survey provides a unique insight into public attitudes towards linking novel lifestyle data with health records.

As part of the LifeInfo Survey, those against sharing their lifestyle data were asked what might make them change their mind. This provided thousands of free text responses detailing respondents’ concerns and suggestions for data sharing. The aim of this project was to analyse these textual data in order to identify barriers for data linkage.

Developing a micro-simulation model for COVID-19 in England

COVID-19 is a global public health concern, with more than 29 million known cases and 900,000 deaths (mid September 2020).

The Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) – Urban Analytics team is creating a micro-simulation model combining epidemiological models with urban analytics. This model can be used to understand disease spread and predict outcomes of different scenarios, such as the effectiveness of counter-measures.

Can changing school admissions systems improve educational equality in the UK?

Every September a new cohort of students move from primary to secondary school, however, in Bradford and across the country, many students are not offered a place at one of their preference schools.

The aim of this project was to understand whether the school admissions system favours some groups more than others, producing inequality. It also stands as a case study in how data science techniques can be used by Local Authorities to inform policy and improve lives.

Working together to tackle health inequalities and improve the health of the public – SIPHER Consortium

The conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work and age are key drivers of health and health inequalities. Preventing ill health related to these “social determinants of health” requires well-coordinated policies across many sectors, such as the economy, welfare, housing, education and employment.

A number of our Urban Analytics researchers from Leeds are part of the SIPHER consortium, which is working to deliver novel evidence of the costs and benefits of the complex, interlinked and long-term consequences of policy decisions.

Classifying consumer vulnerability in the UK

Some consumers are more vulnerable to marketing practices due to their personal traits such as age, health or household arrangements. For this project consumer vulnerability is defined as the risk that a consumer’s mental, physical or financial welfare may be damaged when engaging in a market interaction.

While consumer vulnerability has been discussed at length in academic literature and regulatory guidelines, there has not been a comprehensive geographical assessment of consumer vulnerability in the United Kingdom. This project utilised data from the Consumer Data Research Centre to create a geodemographic classification of consumer vulnerability at output area level.