Creating Knowledge Conference – Healthy Independent Lives 1

M Thelwell, J Hart, J Wheat, A Bullas, C Chuang-Yuan, Simon Choppin – Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Centre for Sports Engineering Research
A novel method of assessing human body shape

Traditional manual measures are used extensively in medical practice and epidemiological studies to assess an individual’s health risk indicators. However, manual techniques are time consuming and limited to simple measurements, such as lengths, breadths and girths. Health indices that are derived from these measures, such as the body mass index (BMI) are widely used to classify obesity. However, BMI fails to distinguish between fat, muscle or bone mass and is prone to misclassification of individuals into distinct health risk groups. Three-dimensional (3D) imaging systems can capture the full external geometry of a person. In addition to being a more time efficient and non-invasive alternative to manual techniques they also allow for more complex methods of shape analysis. This paper introduces a scale-invariant method for describing differences in torso shape. It identifies features that can be used to distinguish between individuals in a way that isn’t possible using traditional anthropometrics. The proposed methods can be used to identify individual variations in torso shape and classify individuals into distinct body types. The next stage of work will apply the proposed methods to analyse a large cohort of ten thousand participants, generalising our concept of human shape analysis. Our long-term aim is to associate body shape with health risks such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.


Oseikhuemen O. D. Ojie, Reza Saatchi, James Harrods and Nathan Kent – Faculty of Science Technology and Arts, Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute
Developments of tools to assist with diagnosing balance problems

Balance refers to the ability to maintain a subject’s centre of mass over its base of support. The maintenance of balance requires a combination of mechanisms involving skeletal, neuromuscular and sensory systems. Balance analysis is important for diagnosing balance dysfunctions, reducing the risk of fall and to initiate timely treatment and monitoring.

Balance dysfunctions are the primary cause of falls in elderly. Studies showed that one or more falls is experienced annually by adults over the age of 65 years and this amount is estimated as 30% to 50% in people over 65 years of age and 40% in people over 80 years of age. The fear of falling can restrict participation in general daily activities and falls are the leading cause of death in this age group.

Currently balance assessment is either subjective or relies on expensive set ups that are only available in highly specialised centres. There is an unmet need for improved devices to assist with diagnosing balance problems. Two portable and cost effective devices to examine balance are developed. One is based on a tri-axial accelerometer and other is optical. They both measure human body movements in a standing still position and provide information such as body movements sway path and orientation, displacement, velocity and acceleration.

The operation of the devices were evaluated against each other for their consistency and comparability. The study demonstrated that both devices provide valuable diagnostic information to assist clinicians in assessing balance.


Martin Lamb, Madelynn Arden, Laura Kilby, Nadia Bashir, Catherine Harris, Helen Speake, & Christopher Armitage – Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Centre for Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology
Using behavioural science to understand physical inactivity in Doncaster as part of Sport England’s Local Delivery Pilot

The Behavioural Science Consortium comprises researchers from multiple research centres across Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Manchester who are working with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Sport England to increase physical activity (PA) in disadvantaged Doncaster communities. The project is underpinned by the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation-Behaviour model (Michie et al, 2011) and consists of three phases: 1) a survey of households in key Doncaster communities to identify patterns of activity and barriers/facilitators; 2) interviews with community members, conducted by trained Community Explorers to gain in-depth understanding of the barriers/facilitators of PA; and 3) co-design workshops to develop PA interventions suitable for, and driven by, the local community. The results from Phase 1 have shown that there are very high levels of inactivity within the studied communities and that PA is associated with people’s capabilities, opportunities, and motivations. Each of the communities reported different barriers to being active, highlighting the need to explore communities individually. In Phase 2, eighteen Community Explorers have been trained to conduct interviews with members of their community. In total 74 interviews were undertaken and analysed using framework analysis to gain in-depth understanding of people’s capabilities, opportunities and motivations in each community setting. In Phase 3 these analyses will inform co-design workshops to devise community based interventions and services to increase PA.


Cecile Morris, Craig Hirst, Peter Schofield – Sheffield Business School
Attitudes towards breastfeeding in public

The health benefits of breastfeeding are well established and WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months; however UK breastfeeding rates remain very low. The embarrassment mothers experience when breastfeeding in public contributes to breastfeeding discontinuation and this is compounded by reports in the press of incidents highlighting that some people feel breastfeeding in public is not acceptable. Understanding who is more likely to oppose breastfeeding in public, and why, is a pre-requisite to develop successful social marketing campaigns.

This work has developed in 3 stages. Initially a qualitative review was undertaken to identify the underlying reasons for opposing breastfeeding in public (netnographic analysis of 805 online comments). This was followed by a quantitative study to gauge the relative importance of the different dimensions identified and acquire demographic information (online survey n=7190). Work has now moved onto concept testing the design of social marketing campaigns that could be used to increase support for breastfeeding in public.

Although there is wide spread support for “discreet” breastfeeding in public, some people feel that breastfeeding in public is always inappropriate. Common justifications cited include onlookers’ embarrassment and disgust at bodily fluids. Acceptance of breastfeeding in public significantly differs with gender, age, religion and parental status but also differs across segments with different media consumption habits.

These findings provide the platform to develop social marketing campaigns strategically targeting segments of the public more likely to oppose breastfeeding in public with key messages addressing the underlying reasons through main stream media they access regularly.