Public health nutrition addresses how diet and lifestyle (including physical activity) contributes to overall health and wellbeing and the prevention of the major modifiable diseases at the population level. While the UK and most of the developed world are experiencing the longest lifespans of their populations, they are also experiencing near epidemic levels of chronic non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancers. Diet and lifestyle are key modifiable factors which drive these diseases. Historically while most diet-related conditions were related to energy and nutrient insufficiencies, we are now in a global situation where dietary excess (particularly energy, sugar and fat) and sedentary lifestyles are driving the rise in these major diet-related diseases.
Obesity is a fundamental and modifiable risk factor for these chronic conditions and given the dramatic global rise in the prevalence of overweight and obesity, there is a major drive to tackle this important public health issue in the early part of the 21st century. Thus obesity causation, assessment and treatment are major research themes in the group.
Understanding the key factors that underpin dietary and activity behaviours, and identifying effective interventions are key objectives of the group. Successful collaborations with leading public health and clinical research groups with the UK and overseas have been established including the MRC Human Nutrition Research Cambridge, International Public Health Nutrition Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Barts & The London/Queen Mary London, New York University and City University of New York.