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International Centre For Lifecourse Studies In Society and Health
UCL Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health

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The Lifecourse Podcast

Lifecourse Podcast


The Lifecourse podcast is a series of audio interviews about research that is addressing major policy issues around our health and well-being and how they intertwine with our family and work circumstances.

In interviews of no more than 10 minutes, researchers discuss the context of their work, what they have found, what those findings mean and how they can be used to improve people’s lives. 


Why are young people drinking less alcohol than they used to?

It seems young people are drinking less alcohol than they used to. Research published in the BMC Public Health Journal shows that almost a third of 16 to 24-year-olds in 2015 said they didn't drink, compared with around one in five in 2005. In this episode of the Lifecourse Podcast, Dr Linda Ng Fat from the Department for Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, explains more about the research.


Taking time out to scroll free

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, CEO of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Shirley Cramer and Professor Yvonne Kelly from the ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies at UCL discuss the negative effects of heavy social media use on young people's mental health and happiness. They also talk about the RSPH #ScrollFreeSeptember campaign and the All Party Parliamentary Inquiry into the issue.


Childhood disadvantage and negative health behaviour in adults

Heavy drinking and smoking, poor diet and a lack of physical activity have been shown to go hand in hand in adults from more disadvantaged backgrounds. But research from ICLS PhD student, Claire Mawditt, hints that, contrary to previous evidence, being disadvantaged as a pre-adolescent child is not in itself a predictor of those sorts of negative health behaviours later in life. In this episode of the Lifecourse Podcast she talks to Chris Garrington about the research and its implications for policy.


Is a bus pass a route to good health?

The Government recently announced that, after a review of the older person's bus pass, it would continue for the foreseeable future. Some of the evidence that fed into that review was produced by researchers Libby Webb (formerly ICLS now Age UK researcher) and Anthony Laverty from Imperial College London. In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, they discuss how their findings fed into the policy process and review of evidence that helped secure the future of the bus pass.


Occupational pensions: a question of social class?

We are all being told we need to save harder and longer for our retirement. The State Pension isn’t enough to live on and so we all need to make provision for the day when we will no longer be earning or have access to a salary or a wage. For most of us, this means saving into a pension scheme - maybe one that our employer organises or something we arrange privately. But who exactly has a pension and what sort of background do they come from? In this episode of the Lifecourse Podcast, Professor David Blane discusses research looking to answer that question and discusses the ramifications for policymakers, employers and workers of the key findings.


Jewels in the crown: the British Birth Cohorts

The British Birth Cohort Studies are often described as ‘the jewel in the crown’ of British science. They are used every day by lifecourse researchers at ICLS to better understand how life gets under our skin and to help policy makers, practitioners and the public know when and how to act to help people live long, healthy and happy lives. In this episode of The Lifecourse podcast, author of The Life Project and Nature Magazine’s Chief Features Editor, Helen Pearson talks about how the cohort studies have touched our lives.


Getting out and about: what helps us stay active in older age?

Being able to get out and about as we get older is important for our health and wellbeing. But what needs to be put in place at what point in our lives to help us achieve that? In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Tarani Chandola talks about ICLS research presented in a new booklet Never too Early, Never too Late, which shows some of the factors linked to an active and healthy life in older age.


Looking across the life course to improve the nation’s health

Whether it’s a health campaign to stop people smoking, or a new policy on promoting breastfeeding, a big question for policy makers and practitioners interested in people’s health is ‘when is it best to intervene?’ Never too early, never too late, is a booklet produced by ICLS  which explains how a better understanding of how people’s circumstances and health intertwine over time can help us with what interventions will work when. In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Amanda Sacker discusses the research featured in the booklet and its implications for the nation’s health and wellbeing.


Is a little alcohol good for the mind?

It has been suggested that drinking a small amount of alcohol can reduce the risk of dementia and even enhance our cognitive function. However, the largest study investigating the role of alcohol on cognition conducted to date

challenges that view. In this episode of The Lifecourse podcast, Meena Kumari explains how she and colleagues made use of genetic markers and recently developed methods to see whether a little alcohol is good for our minds.


Mums and work: gender attitudes and relationships

It’s sometimes said that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. In other words we think and behave as if we were from different planets. So is that true when it comes to how men and women think about work – both paid for and domestic and what does that mean for family relationships? In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Lauren Bird talks about her research looking at parents’ attitudes towards mums going out to work, housework and childcare and being happy in a relationship.


Work, family life and stress in middle age

How we combine our work and family life across our lives can have implications for our health later on in middle age, but are those implications and are they different for earlier generations? In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Rebecca Lacey discusses her research looking at the combined work and family life courses of British men and women, how stressed they are in midlife and what that might mean for their health as they get older.


How life gets under our skin

ICLS research looks at how the social circumstances in which people live translate into poor health and unfavourable social outcomes across all stages of the life course. Its researchers use data gathered regularly on the same people across their lives - longitudinal studies which follow thousands of people, collecting information about their health, education, work, family and life experiences. In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Mel Bartley explains 'life gets under our skin'.


Your good health! Why a bus pass might be key for older people

Free bus passes for older people are something of a political hot potato. Some argue they should be scrapped or means tested so that only the less well off enjoy the benefit of free bus travel. But are the benefits of having a free bus pass only financial? In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Libby Webb discusses her research looking at the potential health benefits to older people of having a free bus pass and what the implications of that might be for policy.


Work stress midlife and volunteering in retirement

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Morten Wahrendorf discuss the link between the quality of midlife work and the uptake of volunteering during retirement. His research uses data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) which is a multidisciplinary and cross-national panel database of micro data on health, socio-economic status and social and family networks of approximately 110,000 individuals from 20 European countries (+Israel) aged 50 or older.


Unemployment and elevated inflammatory biomarkers

There is growing evidence that unemployment is linked to long term illness and increased mortality. In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Amanda Hughes discusses the findings from her research on the links between unemployment and killer diseases such as heart disease.


Teenage stress resilience and midlife health

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Scott Montgomery discusses the links between stress resilience and physical fitness in adolescents and coronary heart disease in middle age.


Poverty and obesity in children: the links

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Amanda Sacker discusses research showing striking socioeconomic inequalities with early adolescents from the poorest families 3 times more likely to be obese compared with their wealthier counterparts.


Who are the 11 year old drinkers?

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Yvonne Kelly discusses her research looking at who is drinking alcohol at age 11.


Who wants to work forever?

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Tarani Chandola discusses whether or not it is good for a person's health to work past the traditional retirement age.


Why being an active commuter is good for you

In this episode of The Lifecourse Podcast, Ellen Flint investigates the link between different forms of commuting and commuters' Body Mass Index (BMI) and body fat.