The places where we live, study and work shape our behaviours and health. To give members of the public a new perspective on their surroundings, MRC Epidemiology Unit researchers shared their science for the MRC Festival of Medical Research. Oliver Francis and Paul Browne tell us how they organised their event ‘Are you in a healthy place? Travel, food and our neighbourhoods’ and what made it a success.
Bikes, takeaways and conversations
When you say ‘medical research’, the first things that spring to mind probably aren’t cycling and takeaway food. But we do all know that doing a bit more of one and eating a little bit less of the other could be good for our health.
What we don’t always realise is that these health-related decisions aren’t always individual or personal and that the world around us has a huge influence on many of our choices. We also have to remember that much of the world around us is shaped by decisions made in Westminster and our local councils. Read more
What can people do to improve their health after they’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? This question is becoming all the more urgent as cases of diabetes continue to rise. In this Diabetes Awareness Week (9-14 June), Paul Browne, communications managerat the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, rounds up some recent research from the unit suggesting that small lifestyle changes made soon after diagnosis can make a big difference.
Research published this week has highlighted the increased number of people in the UK with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, reinforcing the urgent need to find ways of preventing and treating the disease.
We know that changes to diet are important for controlling blood glucose levels and reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
But there hasn’t been much research into whether lifestyle changes made soon after diagnosis with type 2 diabetes, can result in long-term health benefits. There has also been a lack of good-quality evidence for the benefit of combining lifestyle changes and medication, over and above medication alone.
This is important because for many individuals, the most challenging aspect to managing their diabetes is adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They may believe that lifestyle is less important than medication, or that the health benefits are not sufficient to justify the effort and disruption to their daily lives. Some may even feel that taking medication such as statins for cholesterol means that they can disregard dietary advice.
Ultimately it comes down to a simple question: “Will this make a difference?” Read more