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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Future Fellows Leadership To Develop New Obesity Measurement Method

Sheffield Hallam University researcher, Dr Alice Bullas, been awarded a £1.6m Future Leaders Fellowship from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to develop new body measurement methods for children living with obesity.

Alice has been recognised as one of the most promising science and research leaders in the UK, securing one of 75 fellowships announced recently.

The Fellowship will fund a five-year study to identify the most accurate and suitable ways to assess the health of children, with a focus on childhood obesity. The project is centred around developing new approaches for data collection of external body shapes, body composition and health measures from 400 children from diverse backgrounds across Sheffield.

It is recognised that whilst the causes of childhood obesity are multifaceted, accurate measurement is essential. As direct measurement of adipose tissue (body fat) and health is resource intensive, experts currently rely on measurement of external body measures – namely body mass index (BMI). However, BMI is flawed in its ability to determine health, particularly in children and UK ethnic minority groups.

The research will determine child-friendly measurement methods and create the world's first database dedicated to childhood body measurement data, to underpin research and innovation in the UK and globally.

Alice is based in the University’s Sports Engineering Research Group within the Academy of Sport and Physical Activity and her expertise lies in 3D surface imaging and body measurement in elite sports people.

The project will take advantage of Alice’s expertise, aligning with the region’s focus on child health and wellbeing and the world class facilities and strategic partnerships of Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, including Canon Medical Systems UK (Canon Medical UK) and the Yorkshire Obesity Research Alliance.

It will be supported by a comprehensive project team of world leading experts from academia, industry, practice and policy.

Alice said: "I am grateful to have been awarded this fellowship, and to be provided the opportunity to pursue my research vision. We hope that by identifying the most accurate and suitable measures and methods to assess child obesity and health we will ensure accurate diagnosis and monitoring to underpin treatment for individuals and the planning of appropriate services."

“Ultimately, our aim is to reduce child obesity rates and improve child health and wellbeing in the UK and globally.”

The UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship scheme is intended to support and develop the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders.

Professor Rory Duncan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at Sheffield Hallam University said: “I am so pleased that Alice had been awarded this hugely well-deserved UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship."

“This remarkable funding programme recognises exceptionally talented people, providing long-term, generous support to accelerate them, their teams and their research vision to become truly world changing. Alice’s ideas align ideally with Hallam’s Health Innovation Campus that is making dramatic impacts across the region, country and the world to transform lives.”

The Fellowship is one of 75 announced which represents an investment of over £100m in new research and innovation.

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “UKRI’s Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with long-term support and training, giving them the freedom to explore adventurous new ideas, and to build dynamic careers that break down the boundaries between sectors and disciplines."

"The fellows announced illustrate how this scheme empowers talented researchers and innovators to build the diverse and connected research and innovation system we need to shorten the distance between discovery and prosperity across the UK.”


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