Today, I will mostly be marking exam papers…


Paper accepted in International Journal of Obesity


Timing of the introduction of complementary feeding and risk of childhood obesity: a systematic review, Jo Pearce, Moira Taylor and Simon Langley-Evans, has been accepted for publication in the International Journal of Obesity (subject to the very smallest of revisions to the manuscript).

This is the second of the systematic reviews on weaning that were funded by the Feeding for Life Foundation and completes a series of four reviews examining the antecedents of childhood obesity and the independent contribution of early obesity to cardiovascular and metabolic disease in adulthood. See Pearce and Langley-Evans IJO (2013), Lloyd et al., (2011), Lloyd et al., (2010).

Travel- my perspective

Ok so, it’s time you all found out how grumpy and miserable I really am. I am going to talk about travel.

Many people tell me that traveling is a real perk of my job and it is difficult to disagree. I have travelled a lot as an academic and I have been to many different places, not quite every continent covered, but easily 20 different countries and some of the greatest cities on Earth. But here is my deadly secret… I hate it and find it rather tedious.

“Why?”, I hear you gasp! Well, here are my top 10 reasons, in no particular order:

1. I am just a home bird really. I miss my home comforts and my family.

2. A lot of trips mean traveling alone and it can be incredibly lonely, especially on a long haul flight and a big impersonal conference on the other end. Eating alone is a particular pet hate of mine, although on the other hand, I really detest sharing breakfast with anyone. Trips with colleagues can be a different prospect a some fantastic group trips to conferences (e.g. Toronto 2004, Granada, Budapest) are recorded in the lab annals as truly legendary.

3. Many trips are to conferences that are held in mega- complexes where the only bit of the country you get to see is the conference hall and the hotel. Almost all hotels are the same (see point 5 below), wherever you go and so that lovely trip to Washington DC might just as well be in Bolton.

4. Airports. Whenever I travel I am always early (a character trait not shared by family members) and so I have spent countless hours waiting in terminals.

5. Some hotels are vile. Overheated, noisy flea bitten holes in Greece, a monstrous hotel-cum-shopping mall in Texas, a rent-a-room-by-the-hour knocking shop in Brittany. It ain’t all 5 star glamour (though I have had some of that too).

6. Enemies and hypocrites. I have bitter professional rivals and these are mostly encountered on trips abroad. We all pretend to like each other and may go through excruciating experiences like sharing a taxi, or a convivial meal (blunt knives only).

7. Delayed flights. Many of my colleagues will confirm that I am an impatient, grumpy traveller at the best of times. Delays make me livid and bring out the worst in me. Aberdeen has always been a bugbear- often stuck there for longer than necessary, but the biscuit was firmly taken by the 13 hour, unexplained delay going from New Jersey to Vermont. There was almost an international incident then.

8. Languages. I am British and therefore have no aptitude for foreign languages. I am humbled by all of the people I meet for whom English is a second language that can be wielded as effectively as a first.

9. Hangovers. Natural by-product of when a trip is going well. Some of these have been legendary (Dublin 1999).

10. The work I return to. The nature of academic life means that while I am off gadding around the world, nobody does my work for me. A week away means a backlog and it can take 2 weeks to get back on track.

On the other side of the fence, some business trips are fantastic. I meet interesting, friendly people. I make new friends and learn new things. I broaden my horizons and develop important collaborations. I have seen great places like the Alhambra, the Smithsonian and Niagara Falls and yes, I lead a very privileged life. I just wish that these things would all come to me at home occasionally.

Having said all that, if you want to invite me to speak at your conference please do get in touch!

My time in Milan- thinking about science again!




I have had the great pleasure of visiting the laboratory of Elia Stupka at the San Raffaele Institute in Milan this week. It was a very stimulating escape from the day-to-day aspects of work and now I am left with my head spinning about possibilities for future work.

In addition to showing me some amazing new data considering differential methylation of DNA in tissues from our Intergenerational study (Harrison and Langley-Evans 2009) – I can’t report the results here, but watch out for a first glimpse at the November Epigenetics meeting in Hinxton- we talked about ongoing reanalysis of the array data from the gatekeeper project and fleshed out ideas for two new pilot studies to start over the summer.

I gave a seminar on the 15th May to a very attentive audience who gave me a jolly good going over in the questions afterwards. Some very insightful and probing issues that set me back to thinking about issues around evolutionary significance of programming that I haven’t paid heed to for quite a while.
Back in Nottingham we often talk about how do we improve out research culture. I think more of our younger colleagues need to come to places like this to see the real power of being in an environment where everyone is talking about science and where everyone has a good understanding of what everyone else is doing. These guys publish in Nature and think big. we have to look to their example and take research out of silos and make it open, exciting. And challenging!

New paper accepted

The Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics has accepted our paper entitled, Assessing communication skills in dietetic consultations: the development of the reliable and valid DIET-COMMS tool. 

the authors are Kirsten Whitehead, Judy Swift, Victoria Tischler and myself. This is the second paper arising from Kirsten’s PhD studies, so congratulations to her.