Programme Leader and MRC Investigator
Behavioural Epidemiology and Interventions in Young People Programme and Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR)
- PhD in Public Health and Epidemiology (EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam) – 2004
- MSc in Human Movement Sciences (VU University, Amsterdam) – 1999
Background and experience
After completing a PhD on adult physical activity promotion in Dutch general practice in (PACE), Esther moved to Cambridge in 2004 to join the newly established MRC Epidemiology Unit as a Career Development Fellow. Here, she led the development of the Unit’s research on children’s and adolescents’ physical activity with a focus on identifying correlates and determinants to contribute to the development and evaluation of physical activity promotion interventions. In 2012, she was appointed Programme Leader of the newly established ‘Behavioural Epidemiology’ programme. Esther has been lead and co-investigator on various observational and experimental research projects focussed on young people’s physical activity behaviour. She is an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. She has contributed to NICE guidance on “Promoting Physical activity for Children and Young People”, the IOC consensus statement on the “Health and Fitness of Young People Through Physical Activity and Sport”, and the 2018 UK CMO Physical Activity Guidelines Update.
Current work and interests
Esther leads the Behavioural Epidemiology and Interventions in Young People programme in the MRC Epidemiology Unit. This programme aims to develop and evaluate interventions to promote physical activity and dietary behaviour in young people, and use observational research to further understand where, when and how health promotion interventions in young people may be targeted. Guided by the ecological model of behaviour, various domains of influence are considered in both observational and intervention research. This includes psychological influences, as well as socio-cultural and environmental influences.
Esther is involved in various projects focussed on assessing personal, socio-cultural and environmental determinants of physical activity behaviour (such as SPEEDY, ICAD, ROOTS, SPACE, Southampton Women’s Survey), as well as intervention trials to promote physical activity (such as FAB, GoActive, CASE, and FRESH) and systematic reviews of the literature.
- See the Behavioural Epidemiology and Interventions in Young People programme page for an up-to-date list of current group members.
Professional memberships and roles
- Director of the Cambridge Epidemiology & Trials Unit (CETU)
- Associate Editor of Journal of Physical Activity and Health
- Honorary Researcher, MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU), University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Chair of the Bradford Hill seminars organizing committee
- Chair of MRC Epidemiology Unit Health and Safety Committee
- Member of MRC Epidemiology Unit Graduate Education Committee
- Member of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
- Member of the International Society for Physical Activity and Health
- Member of the Editorial Board for International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Selected key publications
- Van Sluijs EMF, Ekelund U, Crochemore-Silva I, Guthold R, Ha A, Lubans D, Oyeyemi AL, Ding D, Katzmarzyk PT. Physical activity behaviours in adolescence: current evidence and opportunities for intervention. Lancet. 2021;398(10298):429-442.
- Winpenny EM, Howe LD, van Sluijs EMF, Hardy R, Tilling K. Early adulthood socioeconomic trajectories contribute to inequalities in adult cardiovascular health, independently of childhood and adulthood socioeconomic position. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2021 Aug 6:jech-2021-216611.
- Jong ST, Croxson CHD, Foubister C, Brown HE, Guell C, Lawlor ER, Wells EK, Wilkinson PO, Wilson ECF, van Sluijs EMF, Corder K. Reach, Recruitment, Dose, and Intervention Fidelity of the GoActive School-Based Physical Activity Intervention in the UK: A Mixed-Methods Process Evaluation. Children. 2020;7(11):231.
- Guagliano JM, Armitage SM, Brown HE, Coombes E, Fusco F, Hughes C, Jones AP, Morton KL, van Sluijs EMF. A whole family-based physical activity promotion intervention: findings from the families reporting every step to health (FRESH) pilot randomised controlled trial. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2020;17(1):120.
- Corder K, Sharp SJ, Jong ST, Foubister C, Brown HE, Wells EK, Armitage SM, Croxson CHD, Vignoles A, Wilkinson PO, Wilson ECF, van Sluijs EMF. Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the GoActive intervention to increase physical activity among UK adolescents: A cluster randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2020;17(7):e1003210.
- Corder KL, Winpenny EM, Foubister C, Guagliano JM, Hartwig XM, Love R, Astbury CC, Van Sluijs EMF. Becoming a parent: a systematic review and meta-analysis of changes in body weight, diet and physical activity. Obes Rev. 2020;21(4):e12959.
- Winpenny EM, Smith M, Penny T, Foubister C, Guagliano JM, Love R, Astbury CC, Van Sluijs EMF, Corder KL. Changes in physical activity, diet and body weight across the education and employment transitions of early adulthood. A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2020;21(4):e12962.
- Love R, Adams J, Van Sluijs EMF. Are school-based physical activity interventions effective and equitable? A meta-analysis of cluster randomised controlled trials with accelerometer-assessed activity. Obes Rev. (2019) 20(6):859-870.
- Sluijs EMF van, McMinn AM, Griffin SJ. Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity in children and adolescents: systematic review of controlled trials. BMJ (2007) 335(7622):703-7.
See for overview of all Esther’s publications: Google Scholar publications and profile
Current and previous grants
- School for Public Health Research – Phase 3 (University of Cambridge) (2022-2027). PI: C Brayne, NIHR, ~£3M (co-applicant).
- SCAMP Wave 2. PI: M Toledano (Imperial College London), MRC, £2.4M (co-applicant).
- Behavioural Epidemiology and Interventions in Young People (MRC Epidemiology Unit Programme) (2020-2025). PI: EMF van Sluijs, MRC, £2.9M.
- Identifying optimal daily levels of movement behaviours in early childhood (2020-2022). PI: D Cliff (Wollongong), Aus Res Council, AUD $503,297 (£286k) (co-applicant).
- CHoosing Active Role Models to INspire Girls (CHARMING): a cluster randomised feasibility study of a school-based, community-linked programme to increase physical activity levels in 9-11 year old girls (2020-2021). PI: K Morgan (Cardiff), Health & Care Research Wales, £250k (co-applicant).
- Evidence and obesity prevention (2019-2020). PI: O Mytton. Public Health England, £30k (co-applicant).
- Ethnic, cultural and socio-economic disparities in youth physical activity, sedentary behaviour and obesity (2019). PI: L Sherar (Loughborough), CLAHRC East Midlands, £19k (co-applicant).
- Evaluation of the dissemination of the South African 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Birth to Five Years: implementation feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness (2019-2020). PI: EMF van Sluijs. Cambridge-Africa ALBORADA Research fund, £20k.
- Investigating the impact of London’s ULEZ on children’s physical activity and weight (2019). Lead: C Griffiths (QMUL), CLAHRC, £103,928k (co-applicant).
- The impact of a family-based physical activity promotion programme on child physical activity: feasibility and pilot of the Families Reporting Every Step to Health (FRESH) intervention (2016-2019). PI: EMF van Sluijs, NIHR-PHR, £428,841.
- A cluster randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the GoActive programme to increase physical activity among 13-14 year-old adolescents (2015-2019). PI: KL Corder. NIHR PHR, £1,025,631, (co-applicant).
- Behavioural Epidemiology (MRC Epidemiology Unit Programme) (2015-2020). PI: EMF van Sluijs, MRC, £3.1M.
- Examining the reach and effectiveness of cycle training in schools using the Millennium Cohort Study (2014-2016). PI: A Goodman. ESRC, £65,391 (co-applicant).
- Opportunities within the school environment to shift the distribution of activity intensity in adolescents (2015-2018). PI: EMF van Sluijs. Department of Health Policy Research Programme, £324K.
- Characterising patterns and changes in physical activity in older people and their determinants and consequences. (2013 –2016). PI: SJ Griffin. Lifelong Health and Wellbeing, £793K (co-applicant).
- Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) (2013-2018). PI: NJ Wareham. UKCRC (MRC), £4.2M (co-applicant).
- A randomised controlled trial evaluation of the effectiveness of three minimal human contact interventions to promote fitness and physical activity among NHS hospital employees (Get Moving) (2011-2013). PI: S Sutton. NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme, £248K (co-applicant).
- Diet and Physical Activity Public Health Research Centre (UKCRC Centre of Excellence) (2008-2012). PI: NJ Wareham. UKCRC (ESRC), £5M (co-applicant).
- Social and environmental influences on physical activity (2006-2009) (incl. SPEEDY study). PI: SJ Griffin. National Prevention Research Initiative (NPRI), £392K (co-applicant)