UWE seminars input into national 'nudge' policies on obesity, sustainability and online security

Issue date: 04 September 2014

Tackling issues of obesity

UWE Bristol is bringing together top national speakers, researchers and policy makers in a new approach to explore ways of tackling major societal issues like obesity.

The next in a series of nine seminars on behaviour change organised by UWE's Bristol Social Marketing Centre is being held in London on 11 September. It will focus on obesity, food and physical activity.

The ESRC-funded seminar series is entitled 'Behaviour Change: Past, Present and Future'. It was the brainchild of Dr Fiona Spotswood, who said, “Our social behaviour is very deeply embedded, and is affected by our culture and history.

“The 2011 House of Lords report on behaviour change recommended that to tackle the complex problems faced by society – like obesity, binge drinking and traffic congestion – we need to pursue a multi-disciplinary approach, and policy makers need to work more closely with academics.

“That is what this seminar series aims to do – bring together academics and policy makers from a wide range of disciplines. The seminars, each focused on a different societal problem, will be attended by MPs, policy makers, behaviour change practitioners and a range of academics including psychologists, health professionals, social marketers, sociologists and engineers.”

The topics of the seminars include obesity, food and physical activity; alcohol, drugs and smoking; environmentally sustainable behaviours; corporate behaviour change; mobility behaviours; civic engagement, and online security/ privacy. The final seminar will synthesise cross-cutting issues and set future plans for research, application and publication.

Key speakers include Dr Laura Haynes, formerly Deputy Director of the government's Behavioural Insight Team (sometimes referred to as the 'nudge' unit), NICE chief executive Mike Kelly, and Professor Gabriel Scally, formerly a regional director of Public Health England before becoming Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Urban Environments, based at UWE.

Professor Scally said, “These seminars are an important and rare opportunity for a broad range of academic disciplines to discuss the future of behaviour change. Academics can use the seminars as a way of exploring an agenda for future research, but most importantly we can explore with policy makers a way of working together to achieve the best results across a range of problem areas.”

Dr Spotswood continued, “Academics and policy makers need to communicate better – sometimes innovative research is not communicated effectively by academics to parliament and these flows of communication need improving.

“The seminar series is free and open to the public. We expect researchers and government representatives to attend but also students and business leaders.”

The series is organised by the Bristol Social Marketing Centre at UWE, in conjunction with partners from Capita, City University London, National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), On Target Consulting, University College London, University of Bath, University of Exeter, and the University of Manchester.

The series website is here. To register for any of the seminars you can email amy2.beardmore@uwe.ac.uk or call+44 (0)117 32 87153 or e-mail. Spaces are limited so early booking is advised.

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