Programme Leader & Principal Research Associate
Current work and interests
Amy Ahern is a Principal Research Associate and Programme Leader for the Prevention of Diabetes and Related Metabolic Disorders in High Risk Groups. Her research focuses on the development and evaluation of interventions to prevent and treat obesity and diabetes, with an emphasis on translating understanding of the psychology of eating behaviour and weight management into scalable cost-effective interventions that have sustained effects on behaviour and improve mental and physical health. Amy leads a portfolio of experimental, observational, and qualitative studies, including large randomised controlled trials with long-term follow up.
Amy is Chief Investigator on the NPRI-funded WRAP trial, which evaluates the clinical and cost effectiveness of referral to commercial open-group behavioural weight loss programmes, which are delivered by trained lay people in large groups in community venues at relatively low cost. She is also joint Principal Investigator on an NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research that will develop and evaluate scalable behavioural weight management programmes for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes This programme of research includes the GLoW trial and the development and feasibility evaluation of a new acceptance-based behavioural programme to support weight loss maintenance (SWiM).
Background and experience
Before joining the unit, Amy was awarded a PhD in Psychology from the University of Liverpool in 2008 and went on to complete postdoctoral research at the University of Oxford Centre for Research on Eating Disorders (2008-2009) and the MRC Human Nutrition Research Unit (2009-2016).
- Ahern AL, Breeze P, Fusco F, Sharp SJ, Islam N, et al. Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of referral to a commercial open group behavioural weight management programme in adults with overweight and obesity: 5-year follow-up of the WRAP randomised controlled trial. Lancet Public Health. 2022, 7 (10), E866-E875.
- Richards R, Jones RA, Whittle F, Hughes CA, Hill AJ, Lawlor ER, Bostock J, Bates S, Breeze PR, Brennan A, Thomas CV, Stubbings M, Woolston J, Griffin SJ, Ahern AL. Development of a Web-Based, Guided Self-help, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-Based Intervention for Weight Loss Maintenance: Evidence-, Theory-, and Person-Based Approach. JMIR Formative Research 2022, 6(1):e31801.
- Birch JM, Jones RA, Mueller J, McDonald MD, Richards R, Kelly MP, Griffin SJ, Ahern AL. A systematic review of inequalities in the uptake of, adherence to, and effectiveness of behavioral weight management interventions in adults. Obes Rev. 2022 Jun;23(6):e13438.
- Jones RA, Lawlor ER, Birch JM, Patel MI, Werneck AO, Hoare E, Griffin SJ, van Sluijs EMF, Sharp SJ, Ahern AL. The impact of adult behavioural weight management interventions on mental health: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2021 Apr;22(4):e13150.
- Lawlor ER, Islam N, Bates S, Griffin SJ, Hill AJ, Hughes CA, Sharp SJ, Ahern AL. Third-wave cognitive behaviour therapies for weight management: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2020 Jul;21(7):e13013.
- AL Ahern, GM Wheeler, PN Aveyard, EJ Boyland, JCG Halford, AP Mander, et al. Extended and standard duration weight-loss programme referrals for adults in primary care (WRAP): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2017, 389 (10085), 2214-2225
- SA Jebb, AL Ahern, AD Olson, LM Aston, C Holzapfel, J Stoll, et al. Primary care referral to a commercial provider for weight loss treatment versus standard care: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet 2011, 378 (9801), 1485-1492