The EarlyBird Study

Our CLAHRC, like many sibling CLAHRCs, has a primary prevention theme partnering with local authorities. Local authorities are having to deal with increasingly constrained budgets. Dr Ewan Hamlett, adviser to the Birmingham Council, recently drew the CLAHRC WM Director’s attention to the EarlyBird study.

This unique study, based in Southampton, follows a cohort of five year-olds to see what factors are associated with obesity and insulin resistance, and detailed information relating to metabolism is collected from participants. Results are starting to emerge and many are highly policy-relevant.[1]

Some headline, policy-relevant findings include:

  • Provide more school playing fields if you wish, but not because it will increase exercise or tackle obesity – it won’t do either of these things.
  • As with education, don’t wait until school age to tackle the problem – children are programmed to over-eat before they go to school.
  • Obese parents produce obese children, yet they tend to be oblivious to the problem. Follow policies to get parents ‘on-side’.
  • Among children, the mean weight has shot up, but the median has not. A subgroup of children with fat parents is at greatest risk.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. EarlyBird Diabetes Trust. “Key Findings from EarlyBird.” 2015. [Online].

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