Andrew James Williams BMedSci MPH

Department: Institute of Health Services Research
Research Centre/Unit: Children's Health & Exercise Research Centre

Project Summary

Project title: Determination of school-based contextual factors and their associations with the prevalence of overweight and obese children

Overweight and obesity have become major public health concerns in developed countries due to the increased risk of many conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus. Of particular concern is the rise in childhood obesity with around a quarter of children now being classified as overweight or obese.  In 2005 to monitor the weight of children the UK government introduced the National Childhood Measurement Programme. In the programme children in state primary schools are measured in their first and last year at primary school. The dataset provides an excellent opportunity for epidemiological study of childhood obesity. In my study the data for primary schools in Devon will be analysed using multilevel methods to adjust for the clustering effect of schools and classes within schools.  Devon is an excellent county to study providing a wide range of environments from costal through rural into cities with a wide range of deprivation. Although, there are numerous interventions in schools this study aims to examine structural effects to help define the obesogenic environment. Through the use of multilevel modelling outlier schools can be identified to provide further information on what are the beneficial and detrimental factors of a school. I hope this study will increase our understanding of childhood overweight and obesity, which interventions are effective and where to implement interventions.

Supervisory Team

  • Director of Studies: Professor Craig Williams
  • Second Supervisor: Associate Professor Katrina Wyatt
  • Third Supervisor: Professor William Henley
  • Fourth Supervisor: Professor Stuart Logan

Wider Research Interests

I am a keen statistician and hope to include some Bayesian methods in this study. I am also keen on increasing the public understanding of statistics and I am fascinated by projects like Gap Minder ( which enables statistics to be easily accessed.  As a Quaker I also have a keen interest in the wider determinants of health and in the work of the Equality Trust ( including the book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. This book uses ecological studies to examine the potential affect of greater income equality upon various health and social issues. In connection with this I have a keen interest in mental health issues especially depression and self-harm and the wider social affects upon these conditions. Zimbabwe is of special importance to me and I hope to be able to return to the country throughout my life. I am keen to work abroad and especially in developing countries upon the international public health concerns like HIV/AIDS.

I am pleased to be pursuing these interest following my doctorate with the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy (  Within this new post I will be working with the eHealth Informatics Research Centre undertaking and developing natural experimental approaches to evaluating policy interventions within Scotland and the UK.

Authored Publications/Reports

Williams, A. J., Wyatt, K. M., Hurst, A. J. & Williams, C. A. (21st February 2012) A systematic review of associations between the primary school built environment and childhood overweight and obesity, Health & Place, 18, 3, 504-14

Williams AJ, Henley WE, Williams CA, Hurst AJ, Logan S, Wyatt KM. (22nd August 2013) Systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between childhood overweight and obesity and primary school diet and physical activity policies., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10 (1), 101 (doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-101)