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


  • Kontostoli, E., Jones, A.P., Pearson, N., Foley, L., Biddle, S.J.H., Atkin, A.J. 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, S.E., Clemes, S.A. 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; 18(9):4759. 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; 20(1):122. 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. 25:1-11. 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 Uni 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.