Please call the press office on 01509 223491 to arrange an interview with Dr Will Johnson. Bookings can also be made online at

Will trained in human biology, with a BSc and PhD from Loughborough University (2003-2010), and in epidemiology during postdoctoral positions at the University of Minnesota’s Division for Epidemiology and Community Health (2011-2012), the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at UCL (2013-2014), and MRC Human Nutrition Research (2015-2016). He was appointed as a Lecturer at Loughborough University in 2016 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2019 and Reader in 2023. 

Will works with birth cohort and other longitudinal studies on a programme of research investigating:

  • The role of body size and composition trajectories in lifelong health and wellbeing.
  • Secular trends, inequalities, and other forms of variation in the development, causes, and consequences of obesity and related diseases.
  • Statistical methods to model longitudinal data and investigate complex associations, particularly multilevel and growth mixture modelling.

Selected research funding

  • Refining and embedding the Intersectional "MAIHDA" approach to intersectionality in quantitative social science research (CI) (2022-27). ESRC Research Grant. £826,961
  • Body size trajectories and cardio-metabolic resilience to obesity in three United Kingdom birth cohorts (PI) (2017-2020). MRC New Investigator Research Grant. £429,328
  • Development of Samoan-specific fetal growth references and an assessment of their diagnostic ability (Sub-Award PI) (2019-2020). NIH R03. USD $183,324
  • Dietary determinants of nutritional status among Gambian adolescent girls and young women (Co-PI) (2016). The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science. $49,888
  • Section Editor (Human Population Biology): Annals of Human Biology
  • Journal Reviewer (e.g., Am J Clin Nutr, BMJ, Circulation, Int J Epidemiol, Int J Obes, Lancet Child Adolesc Health, Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol, Lancet Public Health, Pediatrics, Plos Med)
  • Committee Member: International Society for the Study of Human Growth and Clinical Auxology
  • UKRI Talent Peer Review College member

Featured publications

  • Johnson W. The problem of latent class trajectory analysis in child growth and obesity research. Ann Hum Biol 2023: 50(1):1-3.
  • Murphy-Alford AJ, Johnson W, Nyati LH, Santos IS, Hills AP, Ariff S, Wickramasinghe VP, Kuriyan R, Lucas N, Costa CS, Slater C, Ahmad T, Byrne NM, Divya PJ, Kurpad AV, Cheikh-Ismail LI, Loechl CU, Norris SA, on behalf of the Multi-center Infant Body Composition Reference Study (MIBCRS). Body composition reference charts for infants from birth to 24 months: Multi-center Infant Body Composition Reference Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2023: 117(6):1262-1269.
  • Johnson W. Inequalities in pediatric obesity trends: challenges and opportunities. Lancet Pub Health 2021: 6(7):e437-8.  
  • Norris T, Mansukoski L, Gilthorpe MS, Hamer M, Hardy R, Howe L, Hughes AD, Li L, O’Donnell E, Ong KK, Ploubidis GB, Silverwood RJ, Viner R, Johnson W. Distinct body mass index trajectories to young-adulthood obesity and their different cardiometabolic consequences. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2021: 41(4):1580-93.
  • Bann D, Fitzsimons E, Johnson W. Determinants of the population health distribution: an illustration examining body mass index. Int J Epidemiol 2020: 49(3):731-7.
  • Norris T, Cole TJ, Bann D, Hamer M, Hardy R, Leah L, Ong KK, Ploubidis G, Viner R, Johnson W. Duration of obesity exposure between ages 10-40 years and its relationship with cardiometabolic disease risk factors in 20 746 UK adults. Plos Med 2020: 17(12):e1003387.
  • Johnson W. Healthy obesity: time to give up the ghost? Ann Hum Biol 2018: 45(4):297-8.
  • Bann D, Johnson W, Li L, Kuh D, Hardy R. Socioeconomic inequalities in body mass index, weight, and height in childhood and adolescence: coordinated analyses of individual participant data from four British birth cohort studies initiated in 1946, 1958, 1970, and 2001. Lancet Pub Health 2018: 3(4): e194-e203.
  • Johnson W, Li L, Kuh D, Hardy R. How has the age-related process of overweight or obesity development changed over time? Co-ordinated analyses of individual participant data from five United Kingdom birth cohorts. Plos Med 2015: 12: e1001828.
  • Johnson W. Analytical strategies in human growth research. Am J Hum Biol 2015: 27(1): 69-83.