Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


Child and Adolescent Health and Well-being

In its first 10 years, ICLS produced a valuable and influential body of research on the first decade of children's lives. That body of evidence shows just how important family and socio-economic circumstances are when it comes to a getting a child off to a good start and their capacity to thrive at home, at school and in wider society.

The research shows the importance of regular bedtimes and reading to a child, demonstrates the links between poverty and childhood and obesity, explains what aspects of a young person's life are associated with drinking alcohol at an early age and has provided evidence that has led to calls for a new law to prohibit the smacking of children in Scotland.

As children move through their childhood and into adolescence it is crucial to identify potential tipping points in their lives that might inform interventions aimed at improving their health and reduce inequalities between those who are thriving and those who are not. To help understand this better, our current work focuses on:

  • Young people's drinking - in collaboration with Mentor UK, a leading charity working to prevent alcohol and drug misuse among children and young people
  • Social media use and mental health - when and how can we intervene to keep children and young people healthy and happy?
  • Sexual activity among adolescents in the UK- what is the picture today? With the team behind the UK National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles
  • Literacy in childhood - consequences for wellbeing in young people with the National Literacy Trust
  • Social inequalities in child and adolescent obesity - are things getting worse? With the Institute of Health Equity

Other funded projects led by ICLS members include work on looked-after children and early childhood adversity and mental health. A separate project is also looking at obesity from early life onwards to see how health behaviours might influence healthy ageing across - as well as within - generations.

Other research themes

Our current research programme includes three other themes: