Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


The Obesity Research Group

Obesity research group

The Obesity research group is interested in establishing the causes of obesity across the lifespan, developing and testing behavioural interventions for the prevention and management of obesity in children and adults, and evaluating obesity-related public health initiatives. We also study energy balance behaviours, including eating behaviour, physical activity and sleep. We have expertise in behavioural and psychometric measurement, epidemiology, behaviour genetics, intervention design, trial management and qualitative research. 


This group is led by Dr Clare Llewellyn (c.llewellyn@ucl.ac.uk)

Group members

Research staff (UCL): 
Dr Clare Llewellyn
Dr Pippa Lally
Dr Rana Conway
Dr Abi Fisher
Dr Flo Sheen
Zeynep Nas
Alice Kininmonth
Sara Esser

Research staff (UCL, honorary):
Dr Helen Croker

Research staff (external):
Dr Andrea Smith
Dr Ali Fildes

Doctoral students: 
Lisa Heggie
PhD project title: Nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners and their associations with weight and diet in children
Lisa is investigating the impact of sugar and low-energy sweetener consumption on growth and taste preference development during childhood, using data from the Gemini study. Lisa's work supports a large, European Commission-funded programme of research into the long-term health effects of sweeteners, the results of which will contribute to the development of public health policy surrounding food safety and obesity.
Research profiles:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaaHeggie
Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=list_works&hl=en&authuser=1&user=uedUFKMAAAAJ
SWEET profile: https://sweetproject.eu/meet-lisa-heggie-newest-member-of-wp-4/

Kristiane Tommerup
Kristiane’s PhD research focuses on exploring genetic, social, and behavioural risk factors for weight development across infancy. She uses data from the Gemini Twin Study to better understand how socioeconomic, behavioural, and genetic factors are related to and interact to shape weight development right from the very start of life. Prior to starting her PhD, Kristiane was a Research Assistant for the NIHR Obesity Policy Research Unit (OPRU) and completed her MSc in Health Psychology at UCL. 

Alex Rhodes 
Project title: Developing an app-based intervention to encourage and support expectant parents to develop healthier dietary and physical activity habits.
Pregnancy is a significant life change which can prompt the re-evaluation of health behaviours. A healthy eating and physical activity intervention targeting expectant couples could help to reduce rates of excessive gestational weight gain and build better lifestyle behaviours for family life. The intervention will draw on habit theory and the COM-B model of behaviour change and use a person-based approach in its development. It will sit within Baby Buddy, the free, NHS-approved pregnancy and parenting app from UK charity Best Beginnings.


Ongoing PhD projects

  • Developing an app-based intervention to encourage healthy eating, physical activity and weight management in pregnancy (Alexandra Rhodes)
  • Genetic, social, and behavioural risk factors for weight development across infancy (Kristiane Tommerup)
  • Nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners and their associations with weight and diet in children (Lisa Heggie)

Ongoing projects

Completed PhD projects

Completed projects

Publications - Clare Llewellyn