Promoting healthier child growth

yorkshire icon Connected Yorkshire
Researchers involved: Gillian Santorelli, Dr Stefan Williams, Dr Jane West, Prof. John Wright
Disease area impacted: Childhood obesity
Key partners: Bradford University

Project Overview

Childhood obesity is one of the biggest public health concerns of the 21st century.  It can lead to poor health in childhood and serious diseases later in life.

Connected Yorkshire will use data from the Born in Bradford project and anonymous health data, for example information from maternity services like the birthweight of new babies.  Researchers can then link this with other data like that that are collected in schools as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.

This information will help researchers to more clearly understand the patterns and development of childhood obesity.

The Connected Yorkshire team will also invite some families and young people to use specially created mobile phone apps so that they can understand more about lifestyle and behaviour.  Technology can provide data scientists with a much more accurate understanding of what happens outside of the doctor’s surgery.

The results of this study will allow researchers to gain a better understanding of how childhood obesity occurs and how, when and in what ways they can support families to help prevent the development of obesity and the more serious medical conditions that it can cause in adult life.

Why is this research project important?

Childhood obesity causes poor health in childhood and later life, and research has shown it is one of the biggest public health threats facing this country.  By harnessing technology and the power of data, we can find new ways to address this problem.  We will analyse routinely collected data to identify patterns in childhood to help us understand how obesity affects our population in Bradford.  We will also use mobile phones to allow children to monitor their weight and activity levels, including exercise, sleep and screen viewing.

What data are being used in this project?

  • Born in Bradford dataset
  • Health visitor records
  • Primary care records
  • National Child Measurement Service data

What methods are you using to conduct this work?

We will be using pseudonymised data for linkage and analytics.

De-identified data, linked from the Born in Bradford dataset, health visitor records, primary care and National Child Measurement Service will be used, for baseline analysis and to evaluate impact of our interventions.

Who will benefit from your research?

To link routine maternity data (birthweight), health visitor data (child growth), National Child Measurement data (BMI age 4 and 10 years) with primary care data (opportunistic BMI measurements)

  1. To describe growth trajectories in different ethnic groups
  2. To identify early life predictors of later childhood obesity
  3. To embed an electronic Healthy Weight index in clinical and school records
  4.  To test the potential of self-monitoring of weight and lifestyle factors (exercise, diet, sleep and screen viewing) through a smart phone app

What will be the intended outcome of your research project?

To improve the early identification of overweight and obesity in children and promote improved self-monitoring and school and health care support


  • Linkage and availability of complete child growth datasets
  • Development of predictive model and electronic index
  • Use of electronic index
  • Uptake of smart phone data collection
  • BMI trends

Are there any early findings?

Children in the Born in Bradford study will provide the initial sample for demonstrating feasibility and validity using an existing dataset. Children in the whole of Bradford and Airedale district will provide the wider population sample