Research in the Behaviour and Health Research Unit focuses on four sets of behaviours: alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity and smoking. Together, these behaviours contribute to most of the deaths worldwide that occur as a result of non-communicable diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and respiratory diseases. These behaviours also tend to be socially patterned, i.e. those who are most deprived are more likely to engage in these behaviours, and have poorer health as a result. It is estimated that changing these behaviours would prevent the majority of type 2 diabetes (75%) and two fifths of cancers (40%), as well as halving the gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor (WHO, 2012).


In addition, there are four themes which we have found cross-cut our work: physical environment interventions (or choice architecture), economic environment interventions, public acceptability of interventions to change behaviour(s) and health inequalities. Our main focus is on changing those aspects of physical environments that can influence behaviour, often without people being aware that their behaviour has been affected. This is in contrast to interventions targeting conscious processes, which are most often delivered to individuals, and which have yet to demonstrate a substantial impact on populations. Click on the photos below to see more on our research in these behaviours and themes.