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Introduction of Universal Credit linked to increase in psychological distress

A new study shows that the introduction of Universal Credit led to a marked increase in psychological distress amongst those affected by the policy.

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Evaluating the impact of childhood public mental health interventions on long term health and wider societal outcomes (WP4)

This work package will aim to extrapolate the benefits of public mental health interventions delivered in educational settings for children and young people.

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Equal England

The aim of the Equal England network is to expand the successful Equal North network of over 550 members to build a national community of academics, researchers, practitioners, and members of the public across England who share a common interest in addressing health and social inequalities.

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Improved use of routine data to assess and evaluate food environments

Mounting evidence links quantity and mix of high street food retailing, in particular, easy access to takeaway (‘fast-food’) outlets selling energy-dense, nutrient poor hot food for consumption off the premises, with socioeconomic inequalities, unhealthy diet.  This science has direct links to policy through informing ‘healthy’ neighbourhood design. However, most evidence is cross-sectional and descriptive, limiting scope for causal inference. Longitudinal and quasi-experimental studies are rare. This is partly a reflection of insufficient or inadequate data pertaining to the neighbourhood food environment and locations of food outlets as environmental risk factors for diet and disease, over time.

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Local government interactions with harmful commodity industries

Big companies that produce and sell unhealthy products such as tobacco, alcohol and foods and drinks high in salt, sugar and fat have significant impacts on our health. Selling unhealthy products is often highly profitable and companies have a responsibility towards their shareholders to make profit and sell more goods, regardless of whether it has a negative effect on the health of the people buying them. Therefore, there is a conflict between the interests of companies that produce harmful products and the things that we try to do in public health to reduce the illnesses that are caused by consuming too many unhealthy things (e.g. obesity or diabetes). The practices of large companies that attempt to influence public opinion and health policy in favour of industry have been widely documented. These practices include lobbying, marketing, shaping preferences and direct participation in policy planning and delivery. Company’s revenue, employment opportunities, and scientific and technical expertise provide them with a powerful voice in influencing public perceptions and decision making.

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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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Knowledge exchange: engagement and translation of learning points into action and impact with stakeholders

This is the knowledge exchange (KE) work package for the Places & communities programme (P&C). ‘Knowledge exchange’ translates research evidence into practice for public and practitioner audiences and endorses collaborative work between researchers, decision-makers and members of the public. It also includes a study designed to test how local authorities are translating programme findings into policy and practice.

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

Public health researchers often study events, policies or initiatives that they do not have any direct control over. For example, the introduction of the smoking ban in Scotland in 2006 and subsequently in Wales, Northern Ireland and England in 2007. These evaluations can provide important evidence in for public health, but they can be hard to evaluate.

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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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