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Understanding barriers and facilitators to implementing regulatory mechanisms to restrict hot food takeaway outlets

Protection of public health has been identified as a key driver in restricting Hot Food Takeaways (HFTs). Currently, over 50% of Local Authorities (LAs) in England implement policies to regulate the opening of new businesses who wish to trade as a HFT. It is apparent that staff in LAs, both in public health and planning, would benefit from applied public health research in order for them to collate robust evidence and respond effectively and efficiently to overturn future appeals. This project aims to provide public health officers, policy planners and development control planners with applied public health research knowledge from which they can draw upon to make sound decisions in evaluating evidence to ensure they are successfully equipped to deal with and defend such appeals.

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Improved use of routine data to assess and evaluate food environments

While a growing number of epidemiological studies have shown a positive association of unhealthy food retail access, with poor diet, greater body weight and odds of obesity, and poor health outcomes, the evidence base remains equivocal. The majority of published research evidence has been cross-sectional and observational, which limits scope for causal inference. Studies have also focussed on broad classes of food outlets (e.g. takeaways, supermarkets, restaurants), with little discrimination between outlet cuisine types, exposure to which may be differentially associated with body weight, and specific dietary and health outcomes

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Local government interactions with harmful commodity industries

Industries that produce harmful commodities such as high fat, salt or sugar foods and beverages, tobacco and alcohol have been identified as major vectors of behavioural risk factors for non-communicable diseases. The aim of the proposed work is to better understand the nature and extent of such interactions in local government, explore stakeholder views on this issue and the need for guidance, and if justified, develop a set of principles to guide local commercial strategies. While we will explore all harmful commodity industries, the proposed work has a particular focus on the food industry due to the numerous known interactions with local authority, importance to national/local public health priorities and lack of guiding frameworks.

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Evaluation of the removal of HFSS ‘junk-food’ advertising in public transport networks on junk-food awareness and purchasing in London

Marketing and branding is effective in encouraging the purchase and consumption of unhealthy food and drink, but the impact of outdoor advertising specifically needs further research (PHE, 2018). Advertising not only influences adult behaviour but also children’s food choices resulting in pressure being put on parents to buy unhealthy foods. This project aims to undertake (i) an impact evaluation and (ii) a process and implementation evaluation of the removal of high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) advertising on: exposure to HFSS advertising, perceptions of HFSS foods and food purchasing in London.

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Places & communities - knowledge translation work package

This is the knowledge translation (KT) work package for the Places & communities programme (P&C). It is a Research translation/evidence implementation project. It also includes a study designed to test the feasibility of local authorities translating programme findings into policy and practice.

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Improving methodology for place and community-based public health natural experiments and interventions

This work package aims to provide the methodological underpinning of natural experiments conducted within the Places & communities theme as well the Children, young people & families and Public mental health themes, and, while doing so, also provide new practical guidance for local and national public health practitioners on when (and when not) to conduct natural experiments, how they could be designed, what different methods are available for analyses, and how the results of these place-based natural experiments should be interpreted. Moreover, the new guidance will link natural experiments to recent developments around systems thinking in public health.

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Places & communities - What is known? Stakeholder views and research synthesis

Places & communities workstream A begins by scoping out the topic area relevant to our research question, through literature review and stakeholder consultation (WP1). Besides synthesising empirical findings, WP1 will provide the theoretical underpinning for the Programme developing a typology of strategies and interventions for reducing health inequalities with scarce resources – and generating theories underpinning our assumptions of how different types of approach impact upon health inequalities.

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Mapping the child health system at a local level to reduce health inequalities

Giving every child the best start in life is a policy priority in England, yet we currently lack understanding of how to support children at a local level. To address this, we are undertaking a programme of research to better understand child health systems at a local level in order to identify opportunities for intervention.

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Harnessing data to improve child health

Children in the UK have poor health compared to other Western European countries, and there are large and increasing inequalities in child health, including for mental health and obesity. Over the last 20 years numerous reviews of evidence and policy have repeatedly emphasised the need to provide better support early in children’s lives if we are to have any chance of significantly reducing the inequalities in life chances experienced by people in the UK. To address these challenges, we propose a programme of work with a focus on harnessing data to evaluate systems-based approaches for improving children and young people’s outcomes.

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Examining the policy context for reducing health inequalities among children and young people

In order to identify and explore local system-wide approaches to reducing inequalities in children and young people’s health in England, it is essential to have a rounded understanding of current national policies. We also need to understand the issues that local policy makers and practitioners are navigating to try and implement these policies in a local decision-making context. This research will be framed by a social determinants of health perspective to ensure we identify the full range of policies with the potential to influence child health inequalities.

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