A team of researchers from the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield and the User Centred Healthcare Design Lab4Living at Sheffield Hallam University are collaborating on this multi-national, multi-disciplinary three year programme of work dedicated to developing, evaluating and implementing novel social innovations that will impact on improving the quality of life and well-being of older people. The researchers are all participants in the UK National Institute for Health ResearchCollaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care for South Yorkshire.

The project which is based in South Yorkshire in England is about 'Improving Obesity Related Outcomes in Old Age'.Our ambition is to reduce the proportion of the European population who reach old age with problematic obesity, to minimise its negative health impacts and maximise functional health in old age. Using a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and a programme of user-centred healthcare design activities involving participants in an existing cohort of research participants in South Yorkshire, we will develop an intervention that promotes playful inter-generational interactions around healthy and active ageing, exploring the potential of using digital, sensor and social networking technologies.

Through utilising social networks and new technologies to facilitate these interactions we aim to reduce the prevalence of obesity in youth and middle age so that a smaller proportion of people reach old age with problematic obesity, to minimise health impact and maximise functional health in old age.

For regular progress updates, please see the presentations from each of the INNOVAGE Forums:


This work package is a collaboration between the the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University (both in the UK).The Latvian Council of Science has an advisory role.

In line with the central INNOVAGE objective to promote SIs for HLE, this WP will develop a novel social intervention that will help reduce the proportion of the European population who reach old age with problematic obesity, to minimise negative health impacts and maximise functional health in old age. To achieve this, we have identified the following strategic and operational objectives:

Strategic objectives

  • To develop a comprehensive and current, qualitative and quantitative understanding of obesity and its determinants
  • To develop a novel, acceptable and effective social intervention with the potential to prevent and/or reduce obesity using user-centred healthcare design and evaluation activities
  • To develop an implementation strategy to facilitate the use and on-going evaluation of the new intervention in different national and social environments

Operational objectives

  • •To interrogate the relevant literature about obesity and its determinants
  • To use an existing cohort to examine the determinants of obesity across the life course
  • To adopt a user centred design approach with cohort participants to develop a new social innovation
  • To perform a pluralistic evaluation of the resulting social innovation with user and key stakeholders
  • To develop an implementation strategy using a Knowledge to Action approach


The first deliverable for this social innovation is a review paper which synthesises the evidence on intergenerational interventions targeting obesity.  Authored by colleagues at the Universities of Sheffield and Newcastle, the paper posits that intergenerational exchange is an effective source of support for older people and their families and is a potentially useful resource in the prevention and management of obesity and its complications. Intergenerational interventions are increasingly seen as an effective way to reduce or prevent childhood obesity.  It is possible that they may also be used to provide benefit for older generations. The purpose of this review was to analyse the characteristics and effectiveness of intergenerational interventions targeting overweight and obesity in order to inform the development of social interventions which aim to harness or expand  the potential of intergenerational exchange as a resource in the prevention or management of obesity in older age.  A search of eleven electronic databases was carried out. The search and selection process resulted in 19 studies which met the inclusion criteria.   These studies included 4 systematic literature reviews, 2 randomised controlled trials, 4 quasi experimental studies and 9 other study designs.

It is concluded that there is a paucity of evidence around intergenerational interventions with children/seniors, while most research focuses on children/parents. There is a great deal of variation in the studies reviewed making it difficult to draw firm conclusions. However in general the impact of intergenerational interventions on BMI or z-scores was small, and tended to vanish on follow-up.   A link will be added when it is available.

The second deliverable is a blueprint for a social innovation to prevent/reduce obesity.  In parallel with the formal review of published literature (the first deliverable, available above), a contextual analysis was conducted of social innovations and design interventions related to obesity and physical activity. Both novel uses of digital and social technologies to address obesity across Europe and North America were examined, as well as the local context of interventions taking place in South Yorkshire that could be drawn in as partners to ensure the sustainability of the innovations.  Download the report here.


Annual updates

Yearly reports, and final summary of findings, are downloadable below

Summary of findings



Funded by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme
FP7-HEALTH-2012-INNOVATION-1/No 306058

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