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20 Jun 2013

£180K BHF funding helps Loughborough put Kids FIRST

Image: iStock Photography

Researchers at Loughborough University have been awarded more than £180,000 from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to help tackle sedentary lifestyles in children.

Eating unhealthy snacks and being inactive by spending a long time sitting in front of screens are two types of behaviour that can increase the risk of poor health in children.

The Kids FIRST project aims to understand more about why snacking – particularly on foods high in sugar and fat – and sedentary lifestyles in children often occur together.

Dr Emma Haycraft and colleagues from Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS), will conduct surveys and focus groups with children aged five to six and 11 to 12, and will interview their parents, to understand typical screen time and snack consumption behaviours.

Identifying the habits that families engage in at home will help the researchers define ways to help parents and children tackle a sedentary lifestyle. The pilot programme could form the basis of a larger scale programme to reduce children’s sedentary screen time and snacking behaviours.

Dr Haycraft, who is joined by colleagues Dr Natalie Pearson, Professor Stuart Biddle, Dr Paula Griffiths and Sonia McGeorge on the research team, said:

“Involving the whole family and increasing their awareness of their daily activities is essential in order to try to change behaviour and encourage families to adopt a healthier lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle, beginning in childhood, is vital to keeping the heart healthy.

“It is hoped that the initiatives could be rolled out to a larger number of families to make a real impact on the burden that unhealthy lifestyle choices is placing on the health of the UK population.”

The prestigious grant is part of a new multi-million pound boost for UK heart research, and follows BHF’s launch of Fight for Every Heartbeat – a national campaign to highlight the suffering caused by heart disease across the UK.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the BHF, said:

“Through research we’re fighting for every heartbeat, so one day we can put an end to the devastation heart disease brings. This pioneering research project is one of thousands across the UK bringing us a step closer to winning the battle against heart disease.

“We couldn’t fund the research team here at LoughboroughUniversitywithout your support; donate today so we can fund more projects like this and eradicate heart disease for good.”

Text FIGHT to 70123 and give £3 to join the fight for every heartbeat or make a donation today by visiting


Notes for editors

Article reference number: PR 13/116

  • About BHF
    Coronary heart disease is the UK’s single biggest killer. For over 50 years we’ve pioneered research that’s transformed the lives of people living with heart and circulatory conditions. Our work has been central to the discoveries of vital treatments that are changing the fight against heart disease. But so many people still need our help. From babies born with life-threatening heart problems to the many Mums, Dads and Grandparents who survive a heart attack and endure the daily battles of heart failure. Every pound raised, minute of your time and donation to our shops will help make a difference to people’s lives. For more information, visit
  • About Loughborough University
    Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. It has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league, and in recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    It is a member of the 1994 Group of 11 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

Contact for all media enquiries

BHF press office
T: 020 7554 0164 or 07764 290381 (out of hours)

Additional contact information

Amanda Overend
Public Relations Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491