Geographical determinants of health
A geographer at heart, Mark's research has also sought to understand the ways in which features of the neighbourhoods we live and interact with daily imprint on our health. This has involved: building the largest and most comprehensive small area database of geographical measures of health - the Access to Health Assets and Hazards - which has been used by Public Health England; understanding the extent of geographical inequalities in health; examining whether the density of fast food outlets has an effect on body weight and obesity; and the associations between the density of different types of outlets which sell alcohol and alcohol-related hospital admissions. Research funded by the Drivers of Food Choice programme and the MRC (2016-2019) has identified the extent unhealthy and healthy foods sold and advertised across Ghana and Kenya, and has been used to support strategies to regulate and restrict planning to promote health.
Big data, machine learning and health
The growth in availability of data in scope and size has yielded new exciting opportunities for understanding health behaviours, particualrly when combined with maturing data mining approaches. Mark's research has investigated the contribution of new forms of (big) data in this field including: reviewing big data approaches in obesity-related research; examining the contribution of loyalty card records for understanding self-medication behaviours; and the generation of small area health indicators. His 'Understanding Society Biomedical Data Fellowship' (2018) utilised deep learning and decision tree algorithms to evaluate how useful different data types (e.g. biomakers, genetics, social measures) for predicting an individual's risk of future ill health.
The aim of the fellowship is to apply a novel machine learning approach to identify the relative contribution of personal, social, health, biomarker and genetic data as predictors of individual-level health.
UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX (UK)
February 2018 - December 2018
Dietary transitions in African cities: leveraging evidence for interventions and policy to prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases
MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (MRC)
April 2017 - March 2019
Protein for Life: Towards a Focused Dietary Framework for Healthy Ageing
BIOTECHNOLOGY & BIOLOGICAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL (BBSRC)
July 2017 - December 2018
Dietary transitions in Ghanaian cities: mapping the factors in the social and physical food environments that drive consumption of energy dense nutrient-poor (EDNP) foods, to identify interventions reaching women and adolescent girls throughout the reproductive life-course
BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION (USA)
January 2017 - January 2019