School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


Professor Paula Griffiths BSc, PhD

Photo of Professor Paula Griffiths

Professor of Population Health

I gained my PhD in the Department of Social Statistics at the University of Southampton in 1999.

I spent two years at the University of North Carolina undertaking a postdoctoral fellowship examining the nutrition transition in India.

I came to the Department of Human Sciences at Loughborough University in 2002 and moved to the new School of Sports, Exercise and Health Sciences in 2009.

My academic research focuses predominantly on inequalities in maternal and early life risk factors for chronic disease outcomes, particularly in South Africa, Kenya, India, and the UK. My current work is especially focusing on the role of changing socio-economic circumstances over the early life-course and how these influence health outcomes in children and adolescents. It also explores the potential for community based interventions to reduce inequalities in health outcomes.

My research skills in social statistics have also resulted in me providing statistical advice to industrially funded projects for clothing design, hospital equipment and patient safety.

My current research projects investigate the influence of inequalities on:

  • adolescent risk for chronic disease (South Africa)
  • maternal infant and young child feeding, child growth and health (India and Kenya)
  • challenges to appropriate infant feeding in urban slum populations (Kenya)
  • workplace interventions for breastfeeding (Kenya)
  • food choices for women of reproductive ages (Ghana)
  • intergenerational influences on child nutritional status led by Dr Ines Varela Silva (Mexico)
  • children’s diet, sedentary behaviour and physical activity patterns (UK and Kenya)

Current collaborative research

  • Co-investigator to a Gates Foundation Determinants of Food Choice funded study (PI Michelle Holdsworth, University of Sheffield). Dietary transitions in Ghanaian cities: mapping the factors in the social and physical food environments that drive consumption of energy dense nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods and beverages, to identify interventions targeting women and adolescent girls throughout the reproductive life course.
  • Co-investigator to a UNICEF funded study (PI Elizabeth Kimani, African Population and Health Research Centre) entitled Baby-Friendly Workplace Intervention Evaluation and Implementation Research. 
  • Co-investigator to a British Heart Foundation study entitled Kids FIRST (PI Dr Emma Haycraft, Loughborough University). This project is investigating screen viewing and snacking in 5/6 year old and 11/12 year old children and developing an evidence based intervention to reduce these behaviors in children of this age.

Recent collaborative research

  • Co-investigator to an NIH/ USAID funded study (PI Prof Judith Kimiywe, Kenyatta University) entitled; “Feasibility and effectiveness of the baby friendly community initiative in Kenya: A pilot community trial in a rural setting.”
  • Co-investigator to a Transform Nutrition and A4NH project (PI Dr Elizabeth Kimani APHRC, Kenya) entitledSocial Return on Investment –Home Based Nutritional Counselling Intervention in Urban Poor Settings, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Sponsor on a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship awarded to Dr Kimani entitled; “Effectiveness of home based personalized home-based nutritional counseling on infant feeding practices in urban informal settlements, Nairobi, Kenya”.
  • British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship exploring socio-demographic predictors of socio-economic trajectories experienced by the 1990 Soweto-Johannesburg born Birth to Twenty cohort and the influences of these factors on adolescent health outcomes. This work is undertaken in collaboration with Dr Shane Norris and Dr Carren Ginsburg at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and Professor Nyovani Madise at the University of Southampton. Funded 2012-2014.
  • Principal Investigator to a grant funded by the Medical Research Council entitled; "Socio-economic status and child/ adolescent health in Johannesburg/ Soweto." Funded 2005- 2010. This project was undertaken in collaboration with Profs. Norris and Petifor from the Birth to Twenty research study at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa as well as Prof. Cameron from SSEHS at Loughborough University. Continued funding through a SANPAD award that contributed to understanding the impact of poverty and the urban environment on obesity risk in young Black women 2008-2012.
  • Statistical consultant to an NIH and ICMR funded grant entitled; "The Effectiveness of an Integrated Feeding and Care Intervention among 3-15 month old infants in Andhra Pradesh, India." Principal Investigators Professor Margaret Bentley, University of North Carolina, USA and Dr. Shanaz Vazir, National Institute of Nutrition India. Funded 2003-2007. This collaboration with the National Institute of Nutrition continued to be funded under a Royal Society International Award 2009-2011 and a Royal Society Indo-UK seminar award for 2011.

Current teaching

  • Module leader PSA405 Data Analysis in Human Biology
  • Module leader PSB403 Experimental Design and Analysis B1


  • British Academy Mid Career Fellowship (2012-2013)
  • Royal Society International joint project award with Dr. Balakrishna, NIN, India (2009-2011)
  • MRC career establishment award 2005-2010
  • Mellon postdoctoral fellowship (2000-2002)
  • ESRC PhD studentship (1995-1998)

Commercialisation of Research

  • Employed as a consultant to different industrial sponsors providing statistical expertise on the analysis of anthropometric data for clothing and hospital equipment design.

External Examiner

  • I have undertaken external examining duties for LSE - MSc. Population and Development and City University- MSc. Social Research Methods
  • I have also acted as external examiner for PhDs awarded to students from UK and South African universities

Invited Lecture / Keynotes

  • Griffiths, P. L. Invited plenary presentation at the SSHB conference on poverty and Human Biology in Lisbon, Portugal, Sep 2015 on my work on poverty maternal nutrition, infant birthweight and growth in rural Indian infants.
  • Griffiths, P. L. Invited presentation at a workshop entitled Health Economics and Financing: Achieving Equitable Results for Children organized by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for UNICEF country officers. Measuring Health Inequalities in South Africa. A Practical Example. 17th September, 2012.
  • Griffiths, P. L., Ginsburg, C., Madise, N. J., and Norris, S. A. Invited presentation. Measuring Socio-economic change in a transitioning environment. Associations with obesity using a case study from the urban Birth to Twenty cohort. Anthropology of Transition and Tradition. 33rd International Workshop on Anthropology and Health. sponsored by the Wenner Gren Foundation, Hvar, Croatia, Sep12th-15th 2012.
  • Researching health and wellbeing:  perspectives from human development. Invited presentation given at the Leisure, Health and Wellbeing meeting sponsored by the BSA and Brunel University, June 2011.

Journal Referee

  • Member of the Editorial Board Annals of Human Biology
  • Various journals including American Journal of Public Health, Annals of Human Biology, Demography, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Health and Place, International Journal for Equity in Health, Journal of Biosocial Science, Population Studies, Social Science and Medicine, Women and Health

Learned Societies and Professional Affiliations

  • BSPS conference inequalities in health strand organiser 2006-2007, BSPS health and mortality strand organiser 2012-2015.
  • BSPS council member 2003-2007 and 2011-
  • Biosocial Society committee member 2005-2009
  • Society for the Study of Human Biology Secretary 2007-2011
  • Member of the British Society for Population Studies, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, and Society for the Study of Human Biology.

Visiting Titles

  • Honorary Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
  • Kagura, J., Adair, L. S., Pisa, P. T., Griffiths, P. L., Pettifor, J. M., and Norris, S. A (2016 in press) Association of socioeconomic status change between infancy and adolescence, and blood pressure, in South African young adults: Birth to Twenty Cohort. BMJ Open 2016;6:e008805. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2015-008805.
  • Griffiths, P. L., Balakrishna, N., Fernandez Rao, S., and Johnson, W (2016).Do socio-economic inequalities in infant growth in rural India operate through maternal size and birth weight? Annals of Human Biology, 43, 2, 154-163. DOI: 10.3109/03014460.2015.1134656.
  • Kimani-Murage, E.W., Norris, S.A., Mutua, M.K., Wekesah, F., Wanjohi, M., Muhia, N., Muriuki, P., Egondi, T., Kyobutungi, C., Ezeh, A.C., Musoke, R.N., McGarvey, S.T., Madise, N.J.,  and Griffiths, P.L (2016). Potential effectiveness of Community Health Strategy to promote exclusive breastfeeding in urban poor settings in Nairobi, Kenya: a quasi-experimental study. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 7, 2, 172-184. DOI:
  • Kesten, J.M., Griffiths, P. L. and Cameron, N (2015). A critical discussion of the Community Readiness Model using a case study of childhood obesity prevention in England. Health & Social Care in the Community, 23, 3, 262-271.
  • Kimani-Murage, E. W., Wekesah, F., Kyobutungi, C., Wanjohi, M., Muriuki, P., Ezeh, A., Musoke, R., Norris, S., Madise, N., and Griffiths, P (2015). Factors affecting actualization of the WHO breastfeeding recommendations in urban poor settings in Nairobi Kenya. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 11, 3, 314-332.
  • Pradeilles,R ,Rousham,EK ,Norris,SA ,Griffiths,P ,Feeley,A (Published online 2015). Socio-economic influences on anthropometric status in urban South African adolescents: sex differences in the Birth to Twenty Plus cohort. Public Health Nutrition,first view article. DOI:
  • Kimani-Murage, E. W., Wekesah, F., Kyobutungi, C., Wanjohi, M., Muriuki, P., Ezeh, A., Musoke, R., Norris, S., Madise, N., Griffiths, P (Published online 2014). Factors affecting actualization of the WHO breastfeeding recommendations in urban poor settings in Nairobi Kenya. Maternal and Child Nutrition,
  • Griffiths, P. L., Johnson, W. O., Cameron, N., Pettifor, J. M., and Norris, S. A. (2013). In urban South Africa 16 year old adolescents experience greater health equality than children. Economics and Human Biology, 11, 4, 502-514.
  • Johnson, W.O., Nagalla, B., and Griffiths, P. L (2013) Modeling physical growth using mixed effects models. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 150, 1, 58-67.
  • Vazir S, Engle P, Balakrishna N, Griffiths PL, Johnson SL, Creed-Kanashiro H, Fernandez Rao S, Shroff MR, and Bentley ME (2013). Cluster-randomized trial on complementary and responsive feeding education to caregivers found improved dietary intake, growth and development among rural Indian toddlers. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 9, 1, 99-117.