Healthy lifestyles in children

Examining the implementation of healthy lifestyle programmes in children and young people.

Despite the benefits of being physically active and eating a healthy diet, most young people do not achieve the minimum recommended levels of physical activity or eat sufficient fruit and vegetables each day.

Our cutting-edge and innovative research focuses on developing and evaluating the implementation, effectiveness and scale-out of evidence-based healthy lifestyle programmes in young people.

Our team is internationally renowned and have contributed to developing national policies and recommendations.

Theme lead

Lauren Sherar

Professor Lauren Sherar

Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health

Research spotlights


  • McLeod CJ, Haycraft E, Daley AJ. Would offering vegetables to children for breakfast increase their total daily vegetable intake? Public Health Nutr. 2022. DOI: 10.1017/S1368980022002002

  • Pearson N, Griffiths P, van Sluijs E, Atkin AJ, Khunti K, Sherar LB. Associations between socio-economic position and young people’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour in the United Kingdom: A scoping review. BMJ Open. 2022. DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-051736

  • Kontostoli E, Jones AP, Pearson N, Foley L, Biddle SJH, and Atkin AJ. The Association of Contemporary Screen Behaviours with Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Sleep in Adolescents: a Cross sectional Analysis of the Millennium Cohort Study. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. 2022. DOI: 10.1007/s12529-022-10077-7

  • Ikeda E, Guagliano JM, Atkin AJ, Sherar LB, Ekelund U, Hansen B, Northstone K, van Sluijs E. International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD) Collaborators. Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of active travel, organised sport and physical education with accelerometer-assessed moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in young people: the International Children's Accelerometry Database. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2022. DOI: 10.1186/s12966-022-01282-4

  • Gammon C, Atkin AJ, Corder K, Ekelund U, Hansen BH, Sherar LB, Andersen LB, Anderssen S, Davey R, Hallal PC, Jago R, Kriemler S, Kristensen PL, Kwon S, Northstone K, Pate R, Salmon JO, Sardinha LB, VAN Sluijs EMF. International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD) Collaborators. Influence of Guideline Operationalization on Youth Activity Prevalence in the International Children's Accelerometry Database. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2022. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002884.


  • Collings PJ, Grøntved A, Jago R, Kriemler S, Northstone K, Puder JJ, Salmon J, Sardinha LB, Steene-Johannessen J, van Sluijs EMF, Sherar LB, Esliger DW, Ekelund U; International Children's Accelerometry Database (ICAD) Collaborators. Cross-sectional and prospective associations of sleep duration and bedtimes with adiposity and obesity risk in 15 810 youth from 11 international cohorts. Pediatr Obes. 2022. DOI: 10.1111/ijpo.12873.

  • Gillison FB, Grey EB, Cumming SP, Sherar LB. Does adjusting for biological maturity when calculating child weight status improve the accuracy of predicting future health risk? BMC Public Health. 2021. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-12037-4.

  • Warmath CR, Choy CC, Frame EA, Sherar LB, Duckham RL, Soti-Ulberg C, Naseri T, Reupena MS, Hawley NL. Comparability of The Netherlands Physical Activity Questionnaire with Accelerometer-Measured Physical Activity in Samoan Children: A Retrospective Analysis of Ola Tuputupua'e Data. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18168438.

  • Aubert S, Brazo-Sayavera J, González SA, Janssen I, Manyanga T, Oyeyemi AL, Picard P, Sherar LB, Turner E, Tremblay MS. Global prevalence of physical activity for children and adolescents; inconsistencies, research gaps, and recommendations: a narrative review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2021. DOI: 10.1186/s12966-021-01155-2

  • Inan-Eroglu, E, Huang B, Shepherd L, Pearson N, Koster A, Palm P, Cistulli PA, Hamer M, Stamatakis E. Comparison of a thigh worn accelerometer algorithm with diary estimates of time in bed and time asleep: the 1970 British Cohort Study. Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour. 2021. DOI: 10.1123/jmpb.2020-0033
  • Kontostoli E, Jones AP, Pearson N, Foley L, Biddle SJH, Atkin AJ. Age-related change in sedentary behavior during childhood and adolescence: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews. 2021. DOI: 10.1111/obr.13263

  • Chen Y-L, Tolfrey K, Pearson N, Bingham D, Edwardson C, Cale L, Dunston D, Barber SE, Clemes SA. Stand Out in Class: Investigating the Potential Impact of a Sit-Stand Desk Intervention on Children's Sitting and Physical Activity during Class Time and after School. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18094759


  • Chalkley AE, Routen AC, Harris JP, Cale LA, Gorely T, Sherar LB. An evaluation of the implementation of a UK school-based running program. Children (Basel). 2020; 7(10):151. DOI: 10.3390/children7100151

  • Pearson N, Biddle SJH, Griffiths P, Sherar LB, McGeorge S, Haycraft E. Reducing screen-time and unhealthy snacking in 9-11 year old children: the Kids FIRST pilot randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health. 2020. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-8232-9

  • Chalkley AE, Routen AC, Harris JP, Cale LA, Gorely T, Sherar LB. "I just like the feeling of It, outside being active": pupils' experiences of a school-based running program, a qualitative study. J Sport Exerc Psychol. 2020. DOI: 10.1123/jsep.2019-0037

  • Sherry, A.P., Pearson, N., Ridgers, N., Johnson, W., Barber, S., Bingham, D., Nagy, L., Clemes, S.A. Impacts of a standing desk intervention within an English primary school classroom. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020. 26;17(19):7048 DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17197048

  • Johnson, W., Norris, T., De Freitas, R., Pearson, N., Hamer, M., Costa, S. Is the positive relationship of infant weight gain with adolescent adiposity attenuated by moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in childhood? International Journal of Obesity. 2020. DOI 10.1038/s41366-020-00656-7

  • Haycraft, E., Sherar, L.B., Griffiths, P., Biddle, S.J.H., Pearson, N. Screen-time during the after-school period: A contextual perspective. Preventive Medicine Reports, 19. 2020. (101116). DOI: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2020.101116

  • Pearson, N., Biddle, S.J.H., Griffiths, P., Sherar, L.B., McGeorge, S., Haycraft, E. Reducing screen-time and unhealthy snacking in 9-11 year old children: the Kids FIRST pilot randomised controlled trial. BMC Public Health, 20 (122). 2020. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-020-8232-9


  • Gorely T, Harrington DM, Bodicoat DH, Davies MJ, Khunti K, Sherar LB, Tudor-Edwards R, Yates T, Edwardson CL. Process evaluation of the school-based Girls Active programme. BMC Public Health. 2019; 19(1):1187. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-7493-7

  • Charles JM, Harrington DM, Davies MJ, Edwardson CL, Gorely T, Bodicoat DH, Khunti K, Sherar LB, Yates T, Edwards RT. Micro-costing and a cost-consequence analysis of the 'Girls Active' programme: A cluster randomised controlled trial. PLoS One. 2019; 14(8):e0221276. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221276

  • Harrington DM, Davies MJ, Bodicoat D, Charles JM, Chudasama YV, Gorely T, Khunti K, Rowlands AV, Sherar LB, Tudor-Edwards R, Yates T, Edwardson CL. A school-based intervention (‘Girls Active’) to increase physical activity levels among 11- to 14-year-old girls: cluster RCT. Southampton (UK): NIHR Journals Library; 2019. DOI: 10.3310/phr07050

  • Pearson, N., Sherar, L.B., Hamer, M. Prevalence and correlates of meeting sleep, screen-time, and physical activity guidelines among UK adolescents. JAMA Pediatrics, 173(10): 993-994. 2019. DOI: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2822

  • Sherry, A.P., Pearson, N., Ridgers, N.D., Barber, S.E., Bingham, D.D., Nagy, L.C., Clemes, S.A. activPAL-measured sitting levels and patterns in 9-10 year old children from a UK city. Journal of Public Health, 41(4): 757-764. 2019. DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy181

  • International Children’s Accelerometry Database (ICAD). Led by Lauren Sherar (in collaboration with Cambridge University and Norwegian School of Sport Sciences).
  • Veggie Brek: Increasing vegetable consumption in children. Led by Chris McLeod.
  • Understanding the barriers to physical activity for children and young people with epilepsy. Funded by the Waterloo Foundation. Led by Lauren Sherar (the PI institution UCL).
  • Understanding the barriers and facilitators to using accelerometry to collect physical activity data on children and young people in low to middle income countries. Funded by Research England. Led by Lauren Sherar.
  • The acceptability and usefulness of physical activity calorie equivalent food labelling in young people. Funded by UKRI/ESRC. Led by Natalia Iris.