Sugary solution?

by Kate Smith

Since 6 April, the UK’s sugar tax has seen shoppers asked to pay 18p or 24p more per litre of soft drink bought, depending on how much sugar the drink contains. In Scotland, from May, alcohol is now not allowed to be sold for less than 50p per unit, with Wales also looking at similar measures.

The rationale for these price policies is that sugar and alcohol are associated with problems that impose a substantial cost on society. For example, problem drinking can lead to anti-social behaviour, crime, pressure on A&Es and increased liver disease. Excessive sugar consumption is linked to rising obesity rates, diabetes and heart disease. Continue reading

Reducing HIV in Africa with ‘cash plus care’

by Lucie Cluver

Our work often feels like a series of battles against an enemy that outwits us.

Despite real global progress in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS (PDF, UNICEF website), children and adolescents remain left behind. Every hour, 30 adolescents are infected with HIV.  The situation is most severe in Southern and Eastern Africa, which accounts for nine in 10 of adolescent AIDS deaths. AIDS is the leading cause of death amongst adolescents in the region.

We have realised that if we are to have any chance of winning the battle, academics need to work in close partnership with governments, UN agencies and policymakers – and with teenagers themselves. Our research studies are developed together with these groups, which often leads us to unexpected questions and findings. Continue reading

How social scientists can get involved in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

by Charlie Dormer

A new set of research and innovation challenges has recently been announced through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), providing major opportunities for the social sciences to collaborate with other academic disciplines and businesses to solve specific economic and societal challenges.

ISCF is made up of major industrial and societal challenges in different areas of research, where academics work with businesses and other partners to find innovative solutions.

The challenges are being announced in batches each year known as ‘waves’. The latest batch – wave 2 – was announced in November 2017, and the first competitions for each challenge are now being launched. Continue reading

Understanding dementia: the value of co-research

by Linda Birt

Each year several thousand people with dementia take part in vital research as research participants, yet there are few examples of co-research projects in dementia research.

Co-research means people with experience of the condition work alongside academics in all stages of the research process: co-designing studies and co-creating data and results. In the context of dementia, co-research has the potential to actively involve and empower people with dementia and reduce stigma and feelings of isolation.

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Taking a stand against bullying: Addressing mental health problems from within

by Louise Arseneault

Many people have childhood memories of being pushed around and being punched by other pupils when we felt you couldn’t retaliate. They may also remember being the topic of nasty rumours or being excluded by others. Unfortunately, being bullied is not an unusual experience, even today.

Similar to maltreatment, bullying involves abusive behaviours where it is more difficult for the victims to defend themselves. But in contrast to maltreatment, these abusive behaviours are perpetrated by others of the same age. The research I have been conducting for the past 15 years – alongside great collaborators – emphasises the importance of moving away from the common perception that bullying is a just an unavoidable part of growing up.

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