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Penny Breeze

Post-doctoral launching fellow

Places & communities programme, Efficient and equitable health systems theme

University of Sheffield

Research Projects

  1. Development and application of reporting guidelines for efficiency, equity and systems approaches (WP1)
  2. Evaluating the efficiency and equity impact of food policies to improve population health (WP2)
  3. Evaluating the health, social and economic impact of equitable public mental health interventions (WP3)
  4. Evaluating the impact of childhood public mental health interventions on long term health and wider societal outcomes (WP4)

Research Interests

How health economic evidence can be used to support public health decision-making. Penny is looking at the health and economic impact of diet and how complex systems models can be used to evaluate the costs and benefits of food policies.

Practice Engagement

Penny is planning a 2-3 month placement with Sheffield City Council to get first hand experience in how public health decisions are made and the relevance of economic evidence within these decision. She will be involved in evaluating the impact of local marketing campaigns to reduce sugar consumption in the city.

Public Involvement & Engagement

As part of her work to evaluate the evaluate the efficiency and equity of junk food advertising she will consult with the public to help refine priorities for reporting outcomes from the simulation work. Penny will also organise consultation events to discuss proposals for future funding on the theme of household purchasing, health and food waste.

Penny's Academic Career Journey

Since completing her PhD in 2013 Penny has been involved in a number of projects with the NIHR School for Public Health Research exploring the health, economic and equity impacts of public health policies in the UK.

Penny’s most important research contribution to date was the initial design and development of a microsimulation model for the evaluation of prevention interventions for type 2 diabetes. The model was developed to allow flexible evaluation of prevention interventions targeting alternative risk groups, from population wide interventions (soft drinks taxes) to individually targeted interventions (Diabetes Prevention Programme). The model has been used in an update to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Public Health Guidance on prevention of people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes in 2017. The model was adapted for projects with NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) to support their decision-making in diabetes prevention policy. The simulation has been adapted into two PHE return on investment tools to support local authorities to assess the health and cost impacts of diabetes prevention policies and cardiovascular risk reduction activities.

Penny’s current research interests focus on the methods of modelling complex food and dietary systems to improve public health decision-making. Common problems undermining the use of economic evidence in Public Health decisions include an absence of controlled trials; short studies; surrogate outcomes or self-reported data rather than objective measures of individuals; lack of generalisability to local contexts; lack of consideration of equity impacts and incomplete communication of economic outcomes. Penny’s training plan will focus on developing a complex systems model to estimate food policy effects on, health, equity, the environment and economic outcomes in simulation models to support public health decision-making. Penny will work with local public health decision makers and the public to develop tools to aid decision making and grant applications to conduct further research into the complex system of food purchasing, waste, and their impact on health and the economy.

Penny is also pursuing an ongoing interest in the relationships between health and work and hopes to extend work in this area to explore how decision-makers can estimate the impact of health policies on income and employment at a local area level.


  • 2020
  • NIHR SPHR Post-doctoral launching fellow
  • University of Sheffield
  • 2016
  • Research Fellow
  • University of Sheffield
  • 2013
  • PhD
  • University of Sheffield
  • 2012
  • Research Associate
  • University of Sheffield

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