Behavioural and cognitive scientists, led by Professor Dame Theresa Marteau, Director of the Behaviour and Health Research Unit at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Bristol University, marked the start of their new four year programme funded by a prestigious Wellcome Collaborative Award in Science. A launch event at Wellcome Collection, on 17th January 2018, was the start of a project named ‘Behaviour Change by Design’ which seeks to investigate ways to ‘nudge’ people towards healthier behaviour.
The other grant holders in Cambridge are Dr Gareth Hollands and Professor Paul Fletcher, and in Bristol, Professor Marcus Munafo. Some of the laboratory studies, designed to understand mechanisms and optimize interventions, will be conducted in a new Eating Behaviour Unit within the Wellcome-MRC IMS Translational Research Facility funded by a strategic award from Wellcome to Professor Sir Stephen O’Rahilly. The facility provides a purpose built neuroscience and behavioural lab on the Addenbrookes Campus and is directed by Professor Sadaf Farooqi whose extensive metabolic research programme into obesity is highly complementary to the planned work.
Professor Marteau said “targeting conscious, intentional routes to prompt healthier behaviours by providing information to people – traditionally the most commonly used method – is rarely effective, particularly amongst the poorest groups in our society.”