Why Bradford has fewer health studies than Cambridge despite rising obesity rates
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According to information from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), none of the 10 live studies funded by the agency taking place across the city relate to study into obesity and diabetes.
Meanwhile in Cambridge, part of the so-called 'golden triangle' where the majority of research funding is directed, six of the 34 on-going research studies relate to obesity. And since 2011, 106 NIHR studies have been funded in Cambridge compared with just 43 in Bradford.
This is despite previous figures by the Living Well programme, a joint initiative between Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in the district and Bradford Council, which revealed the number of overweight and obese adults and children in the city is on the rise.
According to the data, released late last year by the National Child Development Programme, 23 per cent of reception children in the Bradford district are overweight or obese, compared with 22.6 per cent in England.
Bradford also has one of the UK's highest prevalence of diabetes, with more than one in 10 people (10.4 per cent) diagnosed with the condition, figures from Diabetes UK in 2018 showed.
In Bradford projects have been set up to help bring about change and fight against these debilitating diseases. This includes leading UK early intervention charity HENRY and the National Lottery funded programme - Better Start Bradford.
The initiative has a focus on promoting positive early childhood development and giving youngsters the best start in life.
Nicola Charnock, HENRY service co-ordinator for Better Start Bradford, said the increase in government funded studies taking place in more affluent and healthier areas, like Cambridge, meant communities like Bradford weren't being accurately reflected despite the desperate need.
"At the moment we do have some research in the South that is influencing us in the North and we are able to feed into some of that but if you were to look at what the population of Cambridge looks like compared with the population of Bradford there are very different needs," said Mrs Charnock.
"Our communities in the North look very different. We have information coming from the South that is great but it might not reflect some of the needs that we have up here."
Another project currently run in Bradford is the Healthy and Active Parenting Programme (HAPPY) - a free, friendly antenatal and post-natal project for pregnant women for pregnant women, delivered by leading UK children’s charity Barnardo’s.
HAPPY aims to reduce the number of overweight and obese children living in the Better Start Bradford area and referrals are through the NHS for women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 25 at the time of registering their pregnancy.
"It is about preventing childhood obesity but addressing maternal obesity as well," explained Sonam Bhalla, a team manager at Barnardo’s and HAPPY co-ordinator in Bradford.
"A lot of the families in Bradford aren't getting the key messages as much, as they should, so when they come on to the programme they are like “we didn’t know that”.
"We are educating them very early on about healthy behaviors within a family and it's about making sure that mum is aware of the key health messages and small changes she can make in her diet and then teaching her family."
Miss Bhalla added: "There is a bigger impact the project could be having... there aren’t a lot of projects out there looking at maternal obesity because it is very hard to crack.
"A lot of the families miss out. There will still be those not helped who are living in deprivation, they won’t have the access or availability to the services that they need.
"There is a massive change in the ladies that come through, an increase in confidence, and putting in small changes in their lifestyles that make a massive difference."