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1.  Did School Food and Nutrient-Based Standards in England Impact on 11–12Y Olds Nutrient Intake at Lunchtime and in Total Diet? Repeat Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e112648.
In September 2009, middle and secondary schools in England were required to comply with food and nutrient-based standards for school food. We examined the impact of this policy change on children’s lunchtime and total dietary intake.
We undertook repeat cross-sectional surveys in six Northumberland middle schools in 1999–2000 and 2009–10. Dietary data were collected from 11–12 y olds (n = 298 in 1999–2000; n = 215 in 2009–10). Children completed two consecutive 3-day food diaries, each followed by an interview. Linear mixed effect models examined the effect of year, lunch type and level of socio-economic deprivation on children’s mean total dietary intake.
We found both before and after the introduction of the food and nutrient-based standards children consuming a school lunch, had a lower per cent energy from saturated fat (−0.5%; p = 0.02), and a lower intake of sodium (−143 mg; p = 0.02), and calcium (−81 mg; p = 0.001) in their total diet, compared with children consuming a home-packed lunch. We found no evidence that lunch type was associated with mean energy, or absolute amounts of NSP, vitamin C and iron intake. There was marginal evidence of an association between lunch type and per cent energy NMES (p = 0.06). In 1999–2000, children consuming a school lunch had a higher per cent energy from fat in their total diet compared with children consuming a home-packed lunch (2.8%), whereas by 2009–10, they had slightly less (−0.2%) (year by lunch type interaction p<0.001; change in mean differences −3%).
We found limited evidence of an impact of the school food and nutrient-based standards on total diet among 11–12 year olds. Such policies may need to be supported by additional measures, including guidance on individual food choice, and the development of wider supportive environments in school and beyond the school gates.
PMCID: PMC4237353  PMID: 25409298
2.  Are Social Inequalities Widening in Generalised and Abdominal Obesity and Overweight among English Adults? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79027.
Obesity is now more common in lower socioeconomic groups in developed nations, but the socio-economic patterning of obesity has changed over time. This study examines the time trends in the socioeconomic patterning of generalised and abdominal obesity and overweight in English adults.
Data were from core annual samples of the Health Survey for England 1993–2008, including 155 661 participants aged 18–75 years. The prevalence of generalised and abdominal obesity and overweight was reported as crude and age-adjusted estimates. Binomial regression was used to model measures of obesity and overweight with age, sex, survey years, and two indicators of socioeconomic position: Registrar General’s Social Class (manual and non-manual occupational groups) and relative length of full time education. Trends in socioeconomic patterning were assessed by formal tests for interactions between socioeconomic position measures and survey periods in these models.
The prevalence of generalised and abdominal overweight and obesity increased consistently between 1993 and 2008. There were significant differences in the four outcomes between the two socioeconomic position (SEP) groups in men and women, except for generalised and abdominal overweight with social class in men. The prevalence of obesity and overweight across the whole period was higher in subgroups with lower SEP (differences of 0.2% to 9.5%). There was no significant widening of the socioeconomic gradient of most indicators of greater body fat since the early 1990s, except for educational gradient in generalised obesity in men and women (P = 0.001).
Substantial social class and education gradients in obesity and overweight are still present in both sexes. However, there is limited evidence that these socioeconomic inequalities have changed since 1993.
PMCID: PMC3826717  PMID: 24250823
3.  The Impact of Food and Nutrient-Based Standards on Primary School Children’s Lunch and Total Dietary Intake: A Natural Experimental Evaluation of Government Policy in England 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78298.
In 2005, the nutritional content of children’s school lunches in England was widely criticised, leading to a major policy change in 2006. Food and nutrient-based standards were reintroduced requiring primary schools to comply by September 2008. We aimed to determine the effect of the policy on the nutritional content at lunchtime and in children’s total diet. We undertook a natural experimental evaluation, analysing data from cross-sectional surveys in 12 primary schools in North East England, pre and post policy. Dietary data were collected on four consecutive days from children aged 4–7 years (n = 385 in 2003–4; n = 632 in 2008–9). We used linear mixed effect models to analyse the effects of gender, year, and lunch type on children’s mean total daily intake. Both pre- and post-implementation, children who ate a school lunch consumed less sodium (mean change −128 mg, 95% CI: −183 to −73 mg) in their total diet than children eating home-packed lunches. Post-implementation, children eating school lunches consumed a lower % energy from fat (−1.8%, −2.8 to −0.9) and saturated fat (−1.0%; −1.6 to −0.5) than children eating packed lunches. Children eating school lunches post implementation consumed significantly more carbohydrate (16.4 g, 5.3 to 27.6), protein (3.6 g, 1.1 to 6.0), non-starch polysaccharides (1.5 g, 0.5 to 1.9), vitamin C (0.7 mg, 0.6 to 0.8), and folate (12.3 µg, 9.7 to 20.4) in their total diet than children eating packed lunches. Implementation of school food policy standards was associated with significant improvements in the nutritional content of school lunches; this was reflected in children’s total diet. School food- and nutrient-based standards can play an important role in promoting dietary health and may contribute to tackling childhood obesity. Similar policy measures should be considered for other environments influencing children’s diet.
PMCID: PMC3813573  PMID: 24205190
4.  Brief intervention to prevent hazardous drinking in young people aged 14–15 in a high school setting (SIPS JR-HIGH): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2012;13:166.
Whilst the overall proportion of young people drinking alcohol in the United Kingdom has decreased in recent years, those who do drink appear to drink a larger amount, and more frequently. Early and heavy drinking by younger adolescents is a significant public health problem linked to intellectual impairment, increased risk of injuries, mental health issues, unprotected or regretted sexual experience, violence, and sometimes accidental death, which leads to high social and economic costs. This feasibility pilot trial aims to explore the feasibility of delivering brief alcohol intervention in a school setting with adolescents aged 14 and 15 and to examine the acceptability of study measures to school staff, young people and parents.
Methods and design
Seven schools across one geographical area in the North East of England will be recruited. Schools will be randomly allocated to one of three conditions: provision of an advice leaflet (control condition, n = 2 schools); a 30-minute brief interactive session, which combines structured advice and motivational interviewing techniques delivered by the school learning mentor (level 1 condition, n = 2 schools); and a 60-minute session involving family members delivered by the school learning mentor (level 2 condition, n = 3 schools). Participants will be year 10 school pupils (aged 14 and 15) who screen positively on a single alcohol screening question and who consent to take part in the trial. Year 10 pupils in all seven schools will be followed up at 6 and 12 months. Secondary outcome measures include the ten-question Alcohol-Use Disorders Identification Test. The EQ-5D-Y and a modified short service use questionnaire will inform the health and social resource costs for any future economic evaluation.
Young people recruited into the trial will also complete a 28-day timeline follow back questionnaire at 12-month follow-up. A qualitative evaluation (with young people, school staff, learning mentors, and parents) will examine facilitators and barriers to the use of screening and brief intervention approaches in the school setting in this age group.
Trial registration
Trial reference number ISRCTN07073105
PMCID: PMC3707809  PMID: 22974108
Alcohol; Screening and brief intervention; Feasibility pilot trial; Motivational interviewing; Young people
5.  Correction: Diabetes Care Provision in UK Primary Care Practices 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):10.1371/annotation/1957ad3b-e192-4faa-bf4c-5dce22c5560e.
PMCID: PMC3414526
6.  Diabetes Care Provision in UK Primary Care Practices 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41562.
Although most people with Type 2 diabetes receive their diabetes care in primary care, only a limited amount is known about the quality of diabetes care in this setting. We investigated the provision and receipt of diabetes care delivered in UK primary care.
Postal surveys with all healthcare professionals and a random sample of 100 patients with Type 2 diabetes from 99 UK primary care practices.
326/361 (90.3%) doctors, 163/186 (87.6%) nurses and 3591 patients (41.8%) returned a questionnaire. Clinicians reported giving advice about lifestyle behaviours (e.g. 88% would routinely advise about calorie restriction; 99.6% about increasing exercise) more often than patients reported having received it (43% and 42%) and correlations between clinician and patient report were low. Patients’ reported levels of confidence about managing their diabetes were moderately high; a median (range) of 21% (3% to 39%) of patients reporting being not confident about various areas of diabetes self-management.
Primary care practices have organisational structures in place and are, as judged by routine quality indicators, delivering high quality care. There remain evidence-practice gaps in the care provided and in the self confidence that patients have for key aspects of self management and further research is needed to address these issues. Future research should use robust designs and appropriately designed studies to investigate how best to improve this situation.
PMCID: PMC3408463  PMID: 22859997
7.  The foodscape: classification and field validation of secondary data sources across urban/rural and socio-economic classifications in England 
In recent years, alongside the exponential increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity, there has been a change in the food environment (foodscape). This research focuses on methods used to measure and classify the foodscape. This paper describes the foodscape across urban/rural and socio-economic divides. It examines the validity of a database of food outlets obtained from Local Authority sources (secondary level & desk based), across urban/rural and socio-economic divides by conducting fieldwork (ground-truthing). Additionally this paper tests the efficacy of using a desk based classification system to describe food outlets, compared with ground-truthing.
Six geographically defined study areas were purposively selected within North East England consisting of two Lower Super Output Areas (LSOAs; a small administrative geography) each. Lists of food outlets were obtained from relevant Local Authorities (secondary level & desk based) and fieldwork (ground-truthing) was conducted. Food outlets were classified using an existing tool. Positive predictive values (PPVs) and sensitivity analysis was conducted to explore validation of secondary data sources. Agreement between 'desk' and 'field' based classifications of food outlets were assessed.
There were 438 food outlets within all study areas; the urban low socio-economic status (SES) area had the highest number of total outlets (n = 210) and the rural high SES area had the least (n = 19). Differences in the types of outlets across areas were observed. Comparing the Local Authority list to fieldwork across the geographical areas resulted in a range of PPV values obtained; with the highest in urban low SES areas (87%) and the lowest in Rural mixed SES (79%). While sensitivity ranged from 95% in the rural mixed SES area to 60% in the rural low SES area. There were no significant associations between field/desk percentage agreements across any of the divides.
Despite the relatively small number of areas, this work furthers our understanding of the validity of using secondary data sources to identify and classify the foodscape in a variety of geographical settings. While classification of the foodscape using secondary Local Authority food outlet data with information obtained from the internet, is not without its difficulties, desk based classification would be an acceptable alternative to fieldwork, although it should be used with caution.
PMCID: PMC3341208  PMID: 22472206
Foodscape; Food environment; Secondary data; Urban; Rural; Socio-economic status; Ground-truthing; Validation
8.  Instrument development, data collection, and characteristics of practices, staff, and measures in the Improving Quality of Care in Diabetes (iQuaD) Study 
Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly prevalent chronic illness and an important cause of avoidable mortality. Patients are managed by the integrated activities of clinical and non-clinical members of primary care teams. This study aimed to: investigate theoretically-based organisational, team, and individual factors determining the multiple behaviours needed to manage diabetes; and identify multilevel determinants of different diabetes management behaviours and potential interventions to improve them. This paper describes the instrument development, study recruitment, characteristics of the study participating practices and their constituent healthcare professionals and administrative staff and reports descriptive analyses of the data collected.
The study was a predictive study over a 12-month period. Practices (N = 99) were recruited from within the UK Medical Research Council General Practice Research Framework. We identified six behaviours chosen to cover a range of clinical activities (prescribing, non-prescribing), reflect decisions that were not necessarily straightforward (controlling blood pressure that was above target despite other drug treatment), and reflect recommended best practice as described by national guidelines. Practice attributes and a wide range of individually reported measures were assessed at baseline; measures of clinical outcome were collected over the ensuing 12 months, and a number of proxy measures of behaviour were collected at baseline and at 12 months. Data were collected by telephone interview, postal questionnaire (organisational and clinical) to practice staff, postal questionnaire to patients, and by computer data extraction query.
All 99 practices completed a telephone interview and responded to baseline questionnaires. The organisational questionnaire was completed by 931/1236 (75.3%) administrative staff, 423/529 (80.0%) primary care doctors, and 255/314 (81.2%) nurses. Clinical questionnaires were completed by 326/361 (90.3%) primary care doctors and 163/186 (87.6%) nurses. At a practice level, we achieved response rates of 100% from clinicians in 40 practices and > 80% from clinicians in 67 practices. All measures had satisfactory internal consistency (alpha coefficient range from 0.61 to 0.97; Pearson correlation coefficient (two item measures) 0.32 to 0.81); scores were generally consistent with good practice. Measures of behaviour showed relatively high rates of performance of the six behaviours, but with considerable variability within and across the behaviours and measures.
We have assembled an unparalleled data set from clinicians reporting on their cognitions in relation to the performance of six clinical behaviours involved in the management of people with one chronic disease (diabetes mellitus), using a range of organisational and individual level measures as well as information on the structure of the practice teams and across a large number of UK primary care practices. We would welcome approaches from other researchers to collaborate on the analysis of this data.
PMCID: PMC3130687  PMID: 21658211
9.  Comparison of the efficacy of the cervex brush and the extended-tip wooden spatula with conventional cytology: A longitudinal study 
Cytojournal  2009;6:2.
Within the United Kingdom, the change from conventional to liquid based cytology (LBC) has brought with it the universal introduction of broom style samplers, as represented by the Cervex sampler. The aim of this study was to assess whether or not there were benefits associated with a change from wooden spatulae to broom style samplers for those countries where conversion to LBC might not be readily available or is not fully supported.
A longitudinal study was designed to compare the performance of Cervex brushes and extended-tip wooden spatulae as sampling devices for conventionally prepared cervical smears. General Practices serving the population of Hull and East Yorkshire (UK) were provided with Cervex brushes for a period of nine months to routinely collect cervical smears. The results of 66,931 cervical smear tests were compared between those practices that were using extended-tip wooden spatulae before the trial and then returned to their use afterwards, and those who were previously using Cervex samplers and continued to use them throughout. Analyses comparing both specimen inadequacy, as recorded on the standard cervical screening request form (HMR101), and also the presence of identified transformation zone (TZ) elements in smears, both indicated significant advantages associated with the Cervex brush.
Inadequate smears decreased from 5.96% with extended-tip spatulae to 4.77% with Cervex brushes (p<0.001) and increased back to 7.34% when practices reverted to extended-tip spatulae after nine months. Under the same conditions, the proportion of smears containing identified TZ elements increased from 50.52% to 54.75% (p<0.001), before reverting to 45.47% (p<0.001). In contrast, for a control group of practices using the Cervex brush throughout, inadequate smears decreased in all phases of the study, with no significant variation in TZ sampling rates.
Using the Cervex brush with conventional cytology significantly decreases inadequate smears and increases TZ sampling when compared to the extended-tip spatula and can offer improved cervical screening in countries unable or unwilling to convert to LBC.
PMCID: PMC2678826  PMID: 19495406
Cervex brush; conventional cytology; extended-tip wooden spatula

Results 1-9 (9)