Advancing our knowledge on the impacts of social, economic and behavioural factors on the health of children and young people.

Childhood is a period of rapid physiological and cognitive development. Children are particularly susceptible to social risk factors, through their dependency on family, carers, and institutions such as schools. Understanding the impact of the social environment on child health and development is of particular importance for their health and economic success in later life.

Outcomes studied by this theme vary from health-related risk factors (e.g., educational attainment and childhood obesity) to health events such as disease incidence and hospitalisation (e.g., for asthma). We are particularly interested in understanding how differences in socioeconomic environmental factors, either based on their family unit or the wider area where they live, impact children and their risk of developing disease and disease-related behaviours.

Our work

The Children’s Places project assesses how the social network of children (both physical and virtual) affects their educational attainment at GCSE level and if there are any differences in these patterns based on the socioeconomic characteristics of pupils attending a particular school.

Find out more about the Children’s Places project

As part of the STOP project, we are investigating whether the education level of mothers is associated with children’s weight, particularly overweight or obesity levels, and whether the environment in which families live encourages physical activity, for example, walking or cycling to school.

Science and Technology in childhood Obesity Policy (STOP)

The iMprOVE study is examining the impact of a primary school-based physical activity intervention on children’s physical activity, mental health and wellbeing, and educational performance across primary school life.

iMprOVE study: Evaluating the impact of an active mile intervention on primary school children’s physical activity, mental health, and wellbeing, end educational performance

Theme lead

  • Dr Daniela Fecht

    Personal details

    Dr Daniela Fecht Senior Lecturer


    Daniela Fecht is a Lecturer in Geospatial Health at the UK Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU), part of the MRC Centre for Environment and Health. Her research focuses on geographical variations in population health, with particular focus on cities; and environmental and health inequalities. The priority of both research themes is to address the future challenges of environmental change and how adaptation and mitigation strategies can help to create fair and healthy places, in particular for children and young people. Both themes are supported by the development of advanced geospatial methods to harvest and improve emerging information sources and explore spatial patterns of disease and wellbeing.

Theme members

Our partners