26 Mar 2010 00:00:00.000
Twenty four per cent of the UK population is clinically obese and England has the highest prevalence of obesity in the European Union. The direct and indirect annual cost of treating obesity in this country has been put at around £3.5bn and as we all tend to get heavier as we grow older there will be an underlying trend towards a more overweight population.
As the wider social context of individuals gains interest in the search for causes and ultimately solutions for the obesity epidemic, researchers at The University of Nottingham have begun a one year study to understand more about the relationship between social factors and obesity.
Dr Anne Kouvonen, from the Institute of Work, Health and Organisations, has received funding of £76,500 from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to address the gap in our understanding. Two large existing datasets will be statistically analysed to provide more robust evidence on the links between social environment, obesity and weight related health behaviours.
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Dr Kouvonen said: “The recent increase in obesity rates cannot be explained by genetics and it is well established that social factors are the fundamental drivers of health and health inequality. It does seem that our health and wellbeing improves if we have a good social life or social networks. What we want to do is produce a clearer understanding of the social determinants of obesity to improve the prevention and treatment of obesity.”
Obesity is associated with a higher risk of numerous chronic illnesses. This research will focus on data from two groups — the middle aged (35–50 years) and older adults in the 50 plus age group. The results of this study could provide a framework for policymakers and public health officials to assist in planning, directing and implementing of intervention and prevention strategies and help to identify populations and individuals warranting further assessment and intervention.
The research could also help to locate the types of participation that seem the most beneficial in terms of reducing obesity and thus assisting in decision making connected with allocating resources for different activity groups. The study also aims to make a practical and meaningful contribution to the NHS guidelines in preventing and treating obesity and increasing physical activity.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.