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1.  Dietary patterns in obese pregnant women; influence of a behavioral intervention of diet and physical activity in the UPBEAT randomized controlled trial 
Understanding dietary patterns in obese pregnant women will inform future intervention strategies to improve pregnancy outcomes and the health of the child. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a behavioral intervention of diet and physical activity advice on dietary patterns in obese pregnant woman participating in the UPBEAT study, and to explore associations of dietary patterns with pregnancy outcomes.
In the UPBEAT randomized controlled trial, pregnant obese women from eight UK multi-ethnic, inner-city populations were randomly assigned to receive a diet/physical activity intervention or standard antenatal care. The dietary intervention aimed to reduce glycemic load and saturated fat intake. Diet was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at baseline (15+0-18+6 weeks’ gestation), post intervention (27+0-28+6 weeks) and in late pregnancy (34+0-36+0 weeks). Dietary patterns were characterized using factor analysis of the baseline FFQ data, and changes compared in the control and intervention arms. Patterns were related to pregnancy outcomes in the combined control/intervention cohort (n = 1023).
Four distinct baseline dietary patterns were defined; Fruit and vegetables, African/Caribbean, Processed, and Snacks, which were differently associated with social and demographic factors. The UPBEAT intervention significantly reduced the Processed (−0.14; 95% CI −0.19, −0.08, P <0.0001) and Snacks (−0.24; 95% CI −0.31, −0.17, P <0.0001) pattern scores. In the adjusted model, baseline scores for the African/Caribbean (quartile 4 compared with quartile 1: OR = 2.46; 95% CI 1.41, 4.30) and Processed (quartile 4 compared with quartile 1: OR = 2.05; 95% CI 1.23, 3.41) patterns in the entire cohort were associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes.
In a diverse cohort of obese pregnant women an intensive dietary intervention improved Processed and Snack dietary pattern scores. African/Caribbean and Processed patterns were associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes, and provide potential targets for future interventions.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials; ISRCTN89971375
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-016-0450-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5126873  PMID: 27894316
Dietary patterns; Obesity; Pregnancy; Gestational diabetes
2.  Material deprivation and health: a longitudinal study 
BMC Public Health  2016;16:747.
Does material deprivation affect the consequences of ill health? Answering this question requires that we move beyond the effects of income. Longitudinal data on material deprivation, longstanding illness and limiting longstanding illness enables investigations of the effects of material deprivation on risk of limiting longstanding illness. This study investigates whether a shift from affording to not affording a car predicts the probability of limiting longstanding ill (LLSI).
The 2008–2011 longitudinal panel of Statistics on Income, Social Inclusion and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) is utilised. Longitudinal fixed effects logit models are applied, using LLSI as dependent variable. Transition from affording a car to not affording a car is used as a proxy for material deprivation. All models are controlled for whether the person becomes longstanding ill (LSI) as well as other time-variant covariates that could affect the results.
The analysis shows a statistically significant increased odds ratio of LLSI when individuals no longer can afford a car, after controlling for confounders and LSI in the previous year (1.129, CI = 1.022–1.248). However, when restricting the sample to observations where respondents report longstanding illness the results are no longer significant (1.032, CI = 0.910–1.171).
The results indicate an individual level effect of material deprivation on LLSI, suggesting that material resources can affect the consequences of ill health.
PMCID: PMC4977874  PMID: 27501962
Health; Longstanding illness (LSI); Limiting longstanding illness (LLSI); Social exclusion; Fixed effects
4.  Change in level of physical activity during pregnancy in obese women: findings from the UPBEAT pilot trial 
Maternal obesity is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes. Physical activity (PA) might improve glucose metabolism and reduce the incidence of gestational diabetes. The purpose of this study was to explore patterns of PA and factors associated with change in PA in obese pregnant women.
PA was assessed objectively by accelerometer at 16 – 18 weeks’ (T0), 27 – 28 weeks’ (T1) and 35 – 36 weeks’ gestation (T2) in 183 obese pregnant women recruited to a pilot randomised trial of a combined diet and PA intervention (the UPBEAT study).
Valid PA data were available for 140 (77%), 76 (42%) and 54 (30%) women at T0, T1 and T2 respectively. Moderate and vigorous physical activity as a proportion of accelerometer wear time declined with gestation from a median of 4.8% at T0 to 3% at T2 (p < 0.05). Total activity as a proportion of accelerometer wear time did not change. Being more active in early pregnancy was associated with a higher level of PA later in pregnancy. The intervention had no effect on PA.
PA in early pregnancy was the factor most strongly associated with PA at later gestations. Women should be encouraged to participate in PA before becoming pregnant and to maintain their activity levels during pregnancy. There is a need for effective interventions, tailored to the needs of individuals and delivered early in pregnancy to support obese women to be sufficiently active during pregnancy.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN89971375 (Registered 28/11/2008).
PMCID: PMC4352291  PMID: 25886590
Maternal obesity; Accelerometer; MVPA; Socio-demographic factors
5.  Education Modifies the Association of Wealth with Obesity in Women in Middle-Income but Not Low-Income Countries: An Interaction Study Using Seven National Datasets, 2005-2010 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90403.
Education and wealth may have different associations with female obesity but this has not been investigated in detail outside high-income countries. This study examines the separate and inter-related associations of education and household wealth in relation to obesity in women in a representative sample of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The seven largest national surveys were selected from a list of Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) ordered by decreasing sample size and resulted in a range of country income levels. These were nationally representative data of women aged 15–49 years collected in the period 2005–2010. The separate and joint effects, unadjusted and adjusted for age group, parity, and urban/rural residence using a multivariate logistic regression model are presented
In the four middle-income countries (Colombia, Peru, Jordan, and Egypt), an interaction was found between education and wealth on obesity (P-value for interaction <0.001). Among women with no/primary education the wealth effect was positive whereas in the group with higher education it was either absent or inverted (negative). In the poorer countries (India, Nigeria, Benin), there was no evidence of an interaction. Instead, the associations between each of education and wealth with obesity were independent and positive. There was a statistically significant difference between the average interaction estimates for the low-income and middle-income countries (P<0.001).
The findings suggest that education may protect against the obesogenic effects of increased household wealth as countries develop. Further research could examine the factors explaining the country differences in education effects.
PMCID: PMC3946446  PMID: 24608086
6.  A complex intervention to improve pregnancy outcome in obese women; the UPBEAT randomised controlled trial 
Despite the widespread recognition that obesity in pregnant women is associated with adverse outcomes for mother and child, there is no intervention proven to reduce the risk of these complications. The primary aim of this randomised controlled trial is to assess in obese pregnant women, whether a complex behavioural intervention, based on changing diet (to foods with a lower glycemic index) and physical activity, will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes (GDM) and delivery of a large for gestational age (LGA) infant. A secondary aim is to determine whether the intervention lowers the long term risk of obesity in the offspring.
Multicentre randomised controlled trial comparing a behavioural intervention designed to improve glycemic control with standard antenatal care in obese pregnant women.
Inclusion criteria; women with a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 and a singleton pregnancy between 15+0 weeks and 18+6 weeks’ gestation. Exclusion criteria; pre-defined, pre-existing diseases and multiple pregnancy. Randomisation is on-line by a computer generated programme and is minimised by BMI category, maternal age, ethnicity, parity and centre. Intervention; this is delivered by a health trainer over 8 sessions. Based on control theory, with elements of social cognitive theory, the intervention is designed to improve maternal glycemic control. Women randomised to the control arm receive standard antenatal care until delivery according to local guidelines. All women have a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test at 27+0- 28+6 weeks’ gestation.
Primary outcome; Maternal: diagnosis of GDM, according to the International Association of Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Group (IADPSG) criteria. Neonatal; infant LGA defined as >90th customised birth weight centile.
Sample size; 1546 women to provide 80% power to detect a 25% reduction in the incidence of GDM and a 30% reduction in infants large for gestational age.
All aspects of this protocol have been evaluated in a pilot randomised controlled trial, with subsequent optimisation of the intervention. The findings of this trial will inform whether lifestyle mediated improvement of glycemic control in obese pregnant women can minimise the risk of pregnancy complications.
Trial registration
Current controlled trials; ISRCTN89971375.
PMCID: PMC3938821  PMID: 24533897
Study protocol; Pregnancy; Obesity; Complex intervention; Randomised controlled trial; Glycemic index; Physical activity; Gestational diabetes; Large for gestational age
7.  Developing a complex intervention for diet and activity behaviour change in obese pregnant women (the UPBEAT trial); assessment of behavioural change and process evaluation in a pilot randomised controlled trial 
Complex interventions in obese pregnant women should be theoretically based, feasible and shown to demonstrate anticipated behavioural change prior to inception of large randomised controlled trials (RCTs). The aim was to determine if a) a complex intervention in obese pregnant women leads to anticipated changes in diet and physical activity behaviours, and b) to refine the intervention protocol through process evaluation of intervention fidelity.
We undertook a pilot RCT of a complex intervention in obese pregnant women, comparing routine antenatal care with an intervention to reduce dietary glycaemic load and saturated fat intake, and increase physical activity. Subjects included 183 obese pregnant women (mean BMI 36.3 kg/m2).
Diet was assessed by repeated triple pass 24-hour dietary recall and physical activity by accelerometry and questionnaire, at 16+0 to 18+6 and at 27+0 to 28+6 weeks’ gestation in women in control and intervention arms. Attitudes to behaviour change and quality of life were assessed and a process evaluation undertaken. The full RCT protocol was undertaken to assess feasibility.
Compared to women in the control arm, women in the intervention arm had a significant reduction in dietary glycaemic load (33 points, 95% CI −47 to −20), (p < 0.001) and saturated fat intake (−1.6% energy, 95% CI −2.8 to −0. 3) at 28 weeks’ gestation. Objectively measured physical activity did not change. Physical discomfort and sustained barriers to physical activity were common at 28 weeks’ gestation. Process evaluation identified barriers to recruitment, group attendance and compliance, leading to modification of intervention delivery.
This pilot trial of a complex intervention in obese pregnant women suggests greater potential for change in dietary intake than for change in physical activity, and through process evaluation illustrates the considerable advantage of performing an exploratory trial of a complex intervention in obese pregnant women before undertaking a large RCT.
Trial registration
Trial Registration Number: ISRCTN89971375
PMCID: PMC3718630  PMID: 23855708
Pregnancy; Obesity; Diet; Physical activity; Complex intervention; Evaluation
Health and human rights  2010;12(2):3-16.
The article examines the convergences and contrasts between social epidemiology, social medicine, and human rights approaches toward advancing global health and health equity. The first section describes the goals and work of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. The second section discusses the role of human rights in the Commission’s work. The third section evaluates, from the perspective of social epidemiology, two rights-based approaches to advancing health and health equity as compared to a view that focuses more broadly on social justice. The concluding section identifies four areas where social epidemiologists, practitioners of social medicine, and health and human rights advocates can and must work together in order to make progress on health and health equity.
PMCID: PMC3694312  PMID: 21178186
9.  What helps and hinders midwives in engaging with pregnant women about stopping smoking? A cross-sectional survey of perceived implementation difficulties among midwives in the North East of England 
Around 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths per year result from maternal smoking in the United Kingdom. In the northeast of England, 22% of women smoke at delivery compared to 14% nationally. Midwives have designated responsibilities to help pregnant women stop smoking. We aimed to assess perceived implementation difficulties regarding midwives’ roles in smoking cessation in pregnancy.
A self-completed, anonymous survey was sent to all midwives in northeast England (n = 1,358) that explores the theoretical explanations for implementation difficulties of four behaviours recommended in the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance: (a) asking a pregnant woman about her smoking behaviour, (b) referring to the stop-smoking service, (c) giving advice about smoking behaviour, and (d) using a carbon monoxide monitor. Questions covering Michie et al.’s theoretical domain framework (TDF), describing 11 domains of hypothesised behavioural determinants (i.e., ‘knowledge’, ‘skills’, ‘social/professional role/identity’, ‘beliefs about capabilities’, ‘beliefs about consequences’, ‘motivation and goals’, ‘memory’, ‘attention and decision processes’, ‘environmental context and resources’, ‘social influences’, ‘emotion’, and ‘self-regulation/action planning’), were used to describe perceived implementation difficulties, predict self-reported implementation behaviours, and explore relationships with demographic and professional variables.
The overall response rate was 43% (n = 589). The number of questionnaires analysed was 364, following removal of the delivery-unit midwives, who are not directly involved in providing smoking-cessation services. Participants reported few implementation difficulties, high levels of motivation for all four behaviours and identified smoking-cessation work with their role. Midwives were less certain about the consequences of, and the environmental context and resources available for, engaging in this work relative to other TDF domains. All domains were highly correlated. A principal component analysis showed that a single factor (‘propensity to act’), derived from all domains, explained 66% of variance in theoretical domain measures. The ‘propensity to act’ was predictive of the self-reported behaviour ‘Refer all women who smoke……to NHS Stop Smoking Services’ and mediated the relationship between demographic variables, such as midwives’ main place of work, and behaviour.
Our findings advance understanding of what facilitates and inhibits midwives’ guideline implementation behaviours in relation to smoking cessation and will inform the development of current practice and new interventions. Using the TDF as a self-completion questionnaire is innovative, and this study supports previous research that the TDF is an appropriate tool to understand the behaviour of healthcare professionals.
PMCID: PMC3465235  PMID: 22531641
10.  Agreement between pedometer and accelerometer in measuring physical activity in overweight and obese pregnant women 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:501.
Inexpensive, reliable objective methods are needed to measure physical activity (PA) in large scale trials. This study compared the number of pedometer step counts with accelerometer data in pregnant women in free-living conditions to assess agreement between these measures.
Pregnant women (n = 58) with body mass index ≥25 kg/m2 at median 13 weeks' gestation wore a GT1M Actigraph accelerometer and a Yamax Digi-Walker CW-701 pedometer for four consecutive days. The Spearman rank correlation coefficients were determined between pedometer step counts and various accelerometer measures of PA. Total agreement between accelerometer and pedometer step counts was evaluated by determining the 95% limits of agreement estimated using a regression-based method. Agreement between the monitors in categorising participants as active or inactive was assessed by determining Kappa.
Pedometer step counts correlated moderately (r = 0.36 to 0.54) with most accelerometer measures of PA. Overall step counts recorded by the pedometer and the accelerometer were not significantly different (medians 5961 vs. 5687 steps/day, p = 0.37). However, the 95% limits of agreement ranged from -2690 to 2656 steps/day for the mean step count value (6026 steps/day) and changed substantially over the range of values. Agreement between the monitors in categorising participants to active and inactive varied from moderate to good depending on the criteria adopted.
Despite statistically significant correlations and similar median step counts, the overall agreement between pedometer and accelerometer step counts was poor and varied with activity level. Pedometer and accelerometer steps cannot be used interchangeably in overweight and obese pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC3141462  PMID: 21703033
11.  Preconception Counseling in Women With Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2009;33(3):586-588.
To investigate the association of preconception counseling with markers of care and maternal characteristics in women with pregestational diabetes.
The study includes data from a regional multi-center survey on 588 women with pregestational diabetes who delivered a singleton pregnancy between 2001 and 2004. Logistic regression was used to obtain crude and adjusted estimates of association.
Preconception counseling was associated with better glycemic control 3 months preconception (odds ratio 1.91, 95% CI 1.10–3.04) and in the first trimester (2.05, 1.39–3.03), higher preconception folic acid intake (4.88, 3.26–7.30), and reduced risk of adverse pregnancy outcome (P = 0.027). Uptake of preconception counseling was positively associated with type 1 diabetes (1.87, 1.14–3.07) and White British ethnicity (2.56, 1.17–5.6) and negatively with deprivation score (0.78, 0.70–0.87).
Efforts are needed to improve preconception counseling rates. Uptake is associated with maternal sociodemographic characteristics.
PMCID: PMC2827513  PMID: 20040652
12.  Objectively measured physical activity during pregnancy: a study in obese and overweight women 
Obese and overweight women may benefit from increased physical activity (PA) during pregnancy. There is limited published data describing objectively measured PA in such women.
A longitudinal observational study of PA intensity, type and duration using objective and subjective measurement methods. Fifty five pregnant women with booking body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2 were recruited from a hospital ultrasound clinic in North East England. 26 (47%) were nulliparous and 22 (40%) were obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2). PA was measured by accelerometry and self report questionnaire at 13 weeks, 26 weeks and/or 36 weeks gestation. Outcome measures were daily duration of light, moderate or vigorous activity assessed by accelerometry; calculated overall PA energy expenditure, (PAEE), and PAEE within four domains of activity based on self report.
At median 13 weeks gestation, women recorded a median 125 mins/day light activity and 35 mins/day moderate or vigorous activity (MVPA). 65% achieved the minimum recommended 30 mins/day MVPA. This proportion was maintained at 26 weeks (62%) and 36 weeks (71%). Women achieving more than 30 mins/day MVPA in the first trimester showed a significant reduction in duration of MVPA by the third trimester (11 mins/day, p = 0.003). Walking, swimming and floor exercises were the most commonly reported recreational activities but their contribution to estimated energy expenditure was small.
Overweight and obese pregnant women can achieve and maintain recommended levels of PA throughout pregnancy. Interventions to promote PA should target changes in habitual activities at work and at home, and in particular walking.
PMCID: PMC3001702  PMID: 21114834
13.  Physical activity in pregnancy: a qualitative study of the beliefs of overweight and obese pregnant women 
Whilst there has been increasing research interest in interventions which promote physical activity during pregnancy few studies have yielded detailed insights into the views and experiences of overweight and obese pregnant women themselves. The qualitative study described in this paper aimed to: (i) explore the views and experiences of overweight and obese pregnant women; and (ii) inform interventions which could promote the adoption of physical activity during pregnancy.
The study was framed by a combined Subtle Realism and Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) approach. This enabled us to examine the hypothetical pathway between beliefs and physical activity intentions within the context of day to day life. The study sample for the qualitative study was chosen by stratified, purposive sampling from a previous study of physical activity measurements in pregnancy. Research participants for the current study were recruited on the basis of Body Mass Index (BMI) at booking and parity. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 14 overweight and obese pregnant women. Data analysis was undertaken using a Framework Approach and was informed by TPB.
Healthy eating was often viewed as being of greater importance for the health of mother and baby than participation in physical activity. A commonly cited motivator for maintaining physical activity during pregnancy is an aid to reducing pregnancy-related weight gain. However, participants often described how they would wait until the postnatal period to try and lose weight. A wide range of barriers to physical activity during pregnancy were highlighted including both internal (physical and psychological) and external (work, family, time and environmental). The study participants also lacked access to consistent information, advice and support on the benefits of physical activity during pregnancy.
Interventions to encourage recommended levels of physical activity in pregnancy should be accompanied by accessible and consistent information about the positive effects for mother and baby. More research is required to examine how to overcome barriers to physical activity and to understand which interventions could be most effective for overweight/obese pregnant women. Midwives should be encouraged to do more to promote activity in pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2879230  PMID: 20426815
14.  Does Particulate Air Pollution Contribute to Infant Death? A Systematic Review 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2004;112(14):1365-1370.
There is now substantial evidence that both short- and long-term increases in ambient air pollution are associated with increased mortality and morbidity in adults and children. Children’s health is particularly vulnerable to environmental pollution, and infant mortality is still a major contributor to childhood mortality. In this systematic review we summarize and evaluate the current level of epidemiologic evidence of an association between particulate air pollution and infant mortality. We identified relevant publications using database searches with a comprehensive list of search terms and other established search methods. We included articles in the review according to specified inclusion criteria. Fifteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Evidence of an association between particulate air pollution and infant mortality in general was inconsistent, being reported from locations with largely comparable pollution levels. There was some evidence that the strength of association with particulate matter differed by subgroups of infant mortality. It was more consistent for post-neonatal mortality due to respiratory causes and sudden infant death syndrome. Differential findings for various mortality subgroups within studies suggest a stronger association of particulate air pollution with some causes of infant death. Research is needed to confirm and clarify these links, using the most appropriate methodologies for exposure assessment and control of confounders.
PMCID: PMC1247561  PMID: 15471726
infant mortality; particulate air pollution; postneonatal respiratory mortality; sudden infant death syndrome; systematic review
15.  Influence of psychological coping on survival and recurrence in people with cancer: systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7372):1066.
To summarise the evidence on the effect of psychological coping styles (including fighting spirit, helplessness/hopelessness, denial, and avoidance) on survival and recurrence in patients with cancer.
Systematic review of published and unpublished prospective observational studies.
Main outcome measures
Survival from or recurrence of cancer.
26 studies investigated the association between psychological coping styles and survival from cancer, and 11 studies investigated recurrence. Most of the studies that investigated fighting spirit (10 studies) or helplessness/hopelessness (12 studies) found no significant associations with survival or recurrence. The evidence that other coping styles play an important part was also weak. Positive findings tended to be confined to small or methodologically flawed studies; lack of adjustment for potential confounding variables was common. Positive conclusions seemed to be more commonly reported by smaller studies, indicating potential publication bias.
There is little consistent evidence that psychological coping styles play an important part in survival from or recurrence of cancer. People with cancer should not feel pressured into adopting particular coping styles to improve survival or reduce the risk of recurrence.
What is already known on this topicSurvival from cancer is commonly thought to be influenced by a person's psychological coping styleSome studies have shown that a coping style involving fighting spirit rather than helplessness/hopelessness is associated with survival and recurrence, though the evidence is inconsistentWhat this study addsThis systematic review suggests that there is no consistent association between psychological coping and outcome of cancerPublication bias and methodological flaws in some of the primary studies may explain some of the previous positive findingsThere is no good evidence to support the development of psychological interventions to promote particular types of coping in an attempt to prolong survival
PMCID: PMC131179  PMID: 12424165

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