The Obesity Network – uniting expertise to inform positive change
Overweight and Obesity are a huge problem worldwide. The cost to the UK NHS is £5.1 billion annually with £11.5 billion annual cost to wider society. This does not account for the significantly reduced health related quality of life for overweight or obese individuals.
Overweight and obesity are also closely associated with type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, which place further burden on individuals and society.
The Obesity Network aimed to bring 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.
Aims and Objectives
The network aimed to bring 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.
The datasets include lifestyle and activity statistics, such as the number of gym memberships in an area or proximity to green space; consumer behaviour trends, such as retail data on food purchases; and health data, such as the annual Health Survey for England.
The focus of the network is towards understanding elements of the environment which both promote and discourage the likelihood of becoming overweight or obese with view to positively improve these for a healthier future.
Professor Mark Birkin – Professor of Spatial Analysis and Policy and Director of the Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC)
Dr Michelle Morris – University Academic Fellow in Health Data Analytics, University of Leeds
Professor Steven Cummins – Professor of Population Health & NIHR Senior Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Dr Pablo Monsivais – Programme lead – Dietary public health research, Centre for Diet and Activity Research, University of Cambridge
Dr Claire Griffiths – Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University
Professor Jamie Pearce – Professor of Health Geography, Centre for Research on Environment Society and Health
The seminar series attracted 337 delegates across five events around the UK. Associated workshops brought together 40 academics, policy makers and business partners with a shared vision to use data to better understand and subsequently tackle obesity. The network has produced a series of seven papers, published in a collection by the International Journal of Obesity and a further paper in press with the British Journal of Nutrition.
Aside from academic publications the Network generated new partnerships bringing together the cross sector, cross disciplines community and catalysing new collaborative activity. The network efforts were recognised more widely, resulting in an invitation to participate in a parliamentary workshop on Childhood Obesity. The network has additionally enabled strong relationships with policy makers and business partners to grow, benefitting members research networks and those of seminar delegates.
Network members reported capacity building as a positive network outcome, arising from strategic pairing of early career researchers with more advanced career stage colleagues, leading to new mentorship relationships.
Latest research outputs
The ESRC Strategic Network for Obesity: tackling obesity with big data (2018). Morris MA & Birkin M. International Journal of Obesity. 42, p1948–1950
How has big data contributed to obesity research? A review of the literature (2018). Timmins KA, Green MA, Radley D, Morris MA, Pearce J. 42, p1951-1962
Can big data solve a big problem? Reporting the obesity data landscape in line with the Foresight obesity system map (2018). Morris MA, Wilkins E, Timmins KA, Bryant M, Birkin M, Griffiths C. International Journal of Obesity. 42, p1963 – 1976
Data visualisation to support obesity policy: case studies of data tools for planning and transport policy in the UK (2018). Monsivais P, Francis O, Lovelace R, Chang M, Strachan E, Burgoine T. International Journal of Obesity. 42, p1977–1986
A Delphi study to build consensus on the definition and use of big data in obesity research (2019). Vogel C, Zwolinsky S, Griffiths C, Hobbs M, Henderson E, Wilkins E. International Journal of Obesity.
Creating a long-term future for big data in obesity research (2019). Birkin M, Wilkins E & Morris MA. International Journal of Obesity.