Welcome to the Behaviour and Health Research Unit - Cambridge

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The Behaviour and Health Research Unit contributes evidence to national and international efforts to achieve sustained behaviour change to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities. The main focus of our work is on developing effective ways of changing four…

MRC DTP (PhD) Studentship

Impact of glass design on consumption of alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks.

Overconsumption of alcohol and sugar sweetened drinks contribute significantly to high and rising rates of preventable diseases including diabetes, heart disease and many cancers. Much consumption of these drinks is driven by cues operating outside of awareness. One such cue is the size and shape of glasses as highlighted in our recently published Cochrane review[1] (concerning non-alcoholic drinks) and a field experiment[2] (concerning wine). While these studies reveal an association between glass design and consumption, the mechanisms that explain this have not been examined. Possible mechanisms include the cueing of sip size by size and shape of container, which may contribute to rate of consumption and, in turn, amount consumed.


Alcohol advertising increases positive non-conscious alcohol attitudes in heavier drinkers

Alcohol advertising increases positive non-conscious alcohol attitudes in heavier drinkers

Alcohol marketing may increase alcohol consumption by strengthening positive non-conscious (implicit) attitudes towards alcohol, which may make impulsive alcohol drinking more likely. In a BHRU conducted online experiment, published in Alcohol and Alcoholism, 373 participants aged 18-40 from the general population viewed one of three sets of adverts: (a) alcohol promoting; (b) alcohol warning or (c) non-alcohol adverts. Viewing alcohol-promoting adverts increased positive implicit attitudes towards alcohol, but only for heavier drinkers. Furthermore, viewing advertisements warning against excessive alcohol-use led to a counterintuitive reduction in negative implicit attitudes towards alcohol, again only for heavier drinkers. These findings suggest that both alcohol promoting and alcohol warning adverts may reinforce positive, non-conscious attitudes that make it difficult for heavier drinkers to reduce their alcohol intake. A study is underway to assess the impact of these advert exposures on actual drinking consumption.

Cognitive and Behavioural Impact of Alcohol Promoting and Alcohol Warning Advertisements: An Experimental Study. Brown, KG, Stautz, K, Hollands, GJ, Winpenny, EM & Marteau, TM. Access full text.

Does portion size matter?

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A new systematic review led by researchers at the Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU), published on the 14th of September in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, has found the most conclusive evidence to date that people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions.

The size of this effect, based on combining data from 61 randomised controlled trials (6,711 participants), suggests that if sustained reductions in exposure to large sizes could be achieved across the whole diet, this could reduce average daily energy consumed from food by up to 16% among adults in the UK.

Portion, package or tableware size for changing selection and consumption of food, alcohol and tobacco. Hollands, Shemilt, Marteau, Jebb, Lewis, Wei, Higgins, & Ogilvie., 2015
Access full text.

Vision of Cambridge…2065!

Vision of Cambridge…2065!

The UK Government Future of Cities project funded six UK cities to produce visions of the future of their city, one of which was Cambridge.

The “Visions of Cambridge in 2065” project aims were to garner from a broad range of Cambridge citizens what they envisage the city to look like in the future.

This volume completes the 1st phase of the study, while phase 2 and 3 will be carried out with wider members of the public as well as schoolchildren. To view the article in full click here.

Welcome to the Behaviour and Health Research Unit