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Research interests

James is a pragmatic, multi-methodological researcher with particular interests and expertise in obesity (prevention and treatment), public health, and systems science. Since starting his research career and through various appointments, he has developed strong working relationships within academia, local- and national- government, and the voluntary and community sector. His research aims to answer questions that are pertinent to both policy and practice, and aims to forge further working relationships with these stakeholders in the future. 

James' PhD research examined how and why families engage in weight management services for children with overweight and obesity, with findings being used to develop strategies to counter low engagement. In his post-doctoral work, and as part of a Public Health England funded project, James was embedded in the Whole Systems Obesity project team. This project had implementation science at its core; working with numerous Local Authorities to co-produce a toolkit that facilitates the adoption of a whole systems approach to obesity. When implemented, this toolkit will help the various sectors within local government (e.g. Transport, Planning, Housing, Public Health) to understand the complex system that causes obesity, and moreover, how each sector can contribute to the future solutions. This work has been widely disseminated, including in the evidence hearings at the Health and Social Care Committee Inquiry on Childhood Obesity (May 2018). 

As a result, James has developed a strong interest in complexity science, and in particular, how systems approaches can be used more broadly to aid the adoption of research in the real world. Within his current role as a Research Fellow at NIHR ARC West, James is aiming to utilise systems approaches within implementation-related projects and their respective evaluations. At present, he is involved in the following projects:

  • Chief Medical Officer Review of the Physical Activity Guidelines: This project aims to understand how the revised physical activity guidelines can be communicated to underserved communities.
  • Preventing Childhood Obesity in Schools - A Realist Review: This project will explore the contextual and mechanistic factors that enable a school-based obesity prevention programme to be implemented and sustained. 
  • WHO Europe Childhood Obesity: This project seeks to understand how England currently screens, diagnoses, and treats childhood obesity.
  • IRIS ADViSE: This project aims to help sexual health services broach the subject of domestic violence and abuse with its service users, and subsequently, refer affected persons on to the appropriate support services.


Additional research interests include: 

  • Health inequalities and upstream approaches to complex Public Health issues;
  • Participatory research with service users, deliverers, and commissioners; 
  • Strengths-based approaches to research inquiry;
  • Pragmatic evaluations of complex interventions; 
  • The research - media pipeline in the dissemination of research findings;
  • Conceptualisation of applied research methodologies and frameworks.


  • Obesity
  • Public Health
  • Complexity
  • Implementation Science
  • Multi-methodological research
  • Evaluation
  • Systems science


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