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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Wolfson Fellow

Professor Carolyn Summerbell

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 40071
Room number: A106, Holliday Building, Queen's Campus, Stockton on Tees, TS17 6BH
Principal of John Snow College
Professor of Human Nutrition in the Obesity Related Behaviours (ORB) Research Group

Contact Professor Carolyn Summerbell (email at


Professor Summerbell is based within the School of Medicine, Pharmacy & Health and is also Principal of John Snow College. She joined Durham University in September 2008, having previously headed the University of Teesside’s Centre for Food, Physical Activity and Obesity.

Professor Summerbell’s current research focuses on 1) the collation of evidence for the prevention of obesity in children and adults, and dissemination and translation of this evidence into policy and practice, 2) the development of community-based interventions to prevent childhood and adult obesity, 3) the development of tools to assess dietary intake and physical activity levels at population level. The need to assess and reduce health inequalities underpins this programme of work.

Professor Summerbell has a strong record of attracting research grants from a variety of funding sources. For example, she is a co-applicant on the UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence (Fuse)that includes all five Universities in the North East of England, and also the School for Public Health Research (Fuse). Professor Summerbell is currently a co-applicant on a number of research projects, including those funded by NIHR, SPHR, WHO and BIG Lottery. Professor Summerbell was a member of the Research Funding Board of the NIHR Public Health Research Programme from it’s inception to 2013.

Prof Summerbell has co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed research papers and many Cochrane reviews, and is regularly invited to give keynote lectures at international conferences. She is on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Obesity.

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2009: Invited speaker: Danish Nutrition Society, Copenhagen
  • 2009: Invited speaker: 17th European Congress on Obesity. Geneva
  • 2009: Invited speaker: International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, Lisbon
  • 2008: Chair: The Association for the Study of Obesity
  • 2008: Honorary Secretary: The Nutrition Society
  • 2008: Invited speaker: 16th European Congress on Obesity, Geneva
  • 2008: Invited speaker: Caroline Walker Trust conference, London
  • 2008: Joined editorial board: International Journal of Obesity
  • 2007: Invited speaker: American Heart Association Committee, Orlando
  • 2007: Invited speaker: 2nd WCRF/AICR Expert Report Conference: Food, Nutrition
  • 2007: Invited speaker: Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, London
  • 2007: Invited speaker: HELENA-IDEFICS Satellite Symposium to ISBPNA, Stockholm
  • 2007: Invited speaker: House of Lords: Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Forum, London
  • 2006: Invited speaker: Satellite meeting on Community Development to the International Congress of Obesity, Sydney
  • 2006: Invited speaker: Downing Street: Smith Institute Seminar, London
  • 2006: Joined editorial board: The British Journal of Nutrition
  • 2006: Member: of the NICE Children, Adolescent & Maternity Topic Selection Panel
  • 2006: Visiting Fellow: WHO, Copenhagen and Geneva

Research Groups

School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health

Research Projects

Department of Geography

  • Tackling Inequalities in Obesity, NIHR, £207,000 (2011-2014)

Research Interests

  • The collation of evidence for the prevention of obesity in children and adults
  • Dissemination and translation of evidence for the prevention of obesity in children and adults into policy and practice
  • The development of community-based interventions to prevent childhood and adult obesity
  • The development of tools to assess dietary intake and physical activity levels at population level

Selected Publications

Books: reviews

Books: sections

  • Summerbell, CD. & Hillier, F. (2010). Community Interventions and Initiatives to Prevent Obesity. In Obesity Epidemiology: From Aetiology to Public Health. Crawford, D., Jeffery, R., Ball, K. & Brug, H. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 395-408.
  • Summerbell, C.D. & Shield, J. (2009). Obesity in Childhood. In Obesity: science to practice. Williams, G. & Frühbeck, G. Chichester: John Wiley. 509-539.
  • Thorogood, M., Hillson, M. & Summerbell, C.D. (2006). Changing behaviour. In Clinical Evidence. BMJ Publishing Group.
  • Edmunds, L., Summerbell, C., Waters, E., Campbell, K., Kelly, S. & Ashton, V. (2004). A Summary of findings from the two Cochrane Systematic Reviews for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. In Childhood Obesity from Basic Science to Public Health. Caroli, M.A., Chandra, R.K. & Frelut, M.L. Naples: Giuseppe de Nicola Editore. 197-202.
  • Garrow, J. & Summerbell, C. (2004). Obesity. In Health Care Needs Assessment: the epidemiologically based needs assessment reviews. Stevens, A., Raftery, J., Mant, J. & Simpson, S. Oxford and San Francisco: Radcliffe Medical Press. 1 and 2.
  • Thorogood, M., Cowburn, G. & Summerbell, C. (2002). Nutrition and health promotion. In Nutrition through the life cycle. Shetty, P. Leatherhead, Surrey: Leatherhead Food International Royal Society of Chemistry.

Journal papers: academic

Reports: official

Reports: technical

Show all publications

Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Nutrition: Nutrition
  • Obesity: The prevention of obesity

Selected Grants

  • 2013: Transforming the `foodscapeż: development and feasibility testing of interventions to promote healthier take-away, pub or restaurant food (£201506.00 from NIHR)
  • 2011: Tackling inequalities in obesity (£178062.00 from NIHR)