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Personal profile

Academic Biography

Dr Louisa Ells joined the University in May 2012 as Reader in Public Health and Obesity. She is a member of the Department of Women’s, Children’s and Public Health, and co-leads the digital and creative economy grand challenge. She is also a specialist advisor to Public Health England, an invited expert for the NICE Centre for Guidelines, and sits on the European Association for the Study of Obesity Nutrition working group.

Louisa has specialised in obesity research for the past two decades, working across academia, policy and practice, having previously worked at the North East Public Health Observatory and was a founding member of the National Obesity Observatory (now part of Public Health England). Louisa runs an applied research group at Teesside, finding research solutions to address real world problems. She has a particular interest in co-production, undertaking systematic reviews and service evaluations, and developing digital and creative tools to support weight management and public health. She has worked on projects with a combined income exceeding £1million, and has a strong publication record and established network of international collaborations spanning Europe, USA and Australia.

Summary of Research Interests

Louisa's research interests focus on the management of obesity, public health policy, service evaluation, systematic reviewing and the development of novel tools to support public health, with a strong emphasis on multi-disciplinary collaboration, co-production and research translation.

Current and recently completed projects include:

  • Completing a Cochrane review series examining treatment interventions for children and adolescents with overweight and obesity.
  • Completing a scoping review exploring the evidence base for tier 3 weight management services for adults and children.
  • Completing a series of reviews exploring the effectiveness of fasting interventions for weight management in adults.
  • Completing the fiscal and marketing evidence reviews to support the PHE sugar reduction: from evidence into action.
  • Evaluating the North Yorkshire tier 2 weight management service for adults, and children and young people.
  • An NPRI funded trial: How can we help parents recognise unhealthy body weight in their children?
  • A programme of work examining the relationship between pain and obesity.
  • Developing e-health weight management programmes for children aged 4-11 years.
  • Examining how weight status changes during primary school.
  • Developing and evaluating the impact of a local sugar taxation and marketing policy.

Research Projects & External Funding


  • Bump to Buggy. Sport England Awarded March 2018 (Co-Applicant)
  • Evaluating the North Yorkshire tier 2 child weight management service. North Yorkshire County Council Awarded August 2017 (Principal Investigator)
  • Developing core outcome measures for lifestyle weight management programmes by expert consensus. Chief Scientist Office Catalytic Research Grant. Awarded April 2017 (co-applicant)
  • Mental health and weight management: PHE pump prime fund. PHE Awarded April 2017 (Principal Investigator)
  • Translating weight management commissioning blueprints through design and animation. PHE. Awarded Feb 2017 (Co-Applicant)
  • Interventions for the treatment of childhood overweight and obesity: evidence review work for the WHO Awarded October 2016 (Principal Investigator)
  • Exploring the evidence base for tier 3 weight management services for adults and children: a scoping review underpinned by qualitative case studies. Public Health England: Awarded 2016 (co-applicant, Teesside lead investigator)
  • Evaluating the Hartlepool weight management infographic. Institute of Local Governance. Awarded 2015 (Principal Investigator)
  • Evaluating the North Yorkshire tier 2 adult weight management service. North Yorkshire County Council Awarded 2015 (Principal Investigator)
  • An evaluability assessment for the North Yorkshire tier 2 child weight management service. North Yorkshire County Council Awarded 2015 (Principle Investigator)
  • Public Health England: Rapid reviews on the impact of marketing and fiscal measures on sugar consumption. Awarded 2014 (single tender action) (Academic Principal Investigator)
  • Public Health England: A rapid review and discussion of the process and impact of routine parental feedback of child weight measures 2014 (Principal investigator)
  • Redcar and Cleveland council: Pilot development of a kinetic power output static cycle workstation to reduce sedentary behaviour. Awarded:2013 (Co-applicant).
  • How can we help parents recognise unhealthy body weight in their children? NPRI: Awarded 2011 (Co-Applicant)

PhD and Research Opportunities

I have a number of current and completed PhD students working in the field of public health.

I would be interested in hearing from potential students who wish to carry out a PhD around any of the topic areas described above.

External Roles and Professional Activities

  • Invited speaker at the European Congress on Obesity Vienna 2018
  • Invited speaker on the European Association for the Study of Obesity Train the Trainer course (France, July 2017)
  • Invited speaker on the European Association for the Study of Obesity Train the Trainer course (Malta, April 2017)
  • Invited speaker at WHO seminar (Geneva, December 2016)
  • Public Health Advisory Committee member for the preparation of NICE guidance NG7
  • Editorial board member for the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Guest Editor for Health Care supplement
  • National Child Measurement Programme board member
  • Member of the Department of Health expert group on weight management service commissioning
  • NIHR peer reviewer
  • Peer reviewer for numerous journals including the Lancet, obesity reviews, IJO, Public Health, JBI
  • External PhD examiner
  • Associate member of Fuse: www.fuse.ac.uk

External Research Collaborations

  • World Health Organisation / EATforum (Alessandro Demaio)
  • Newcastle University, Australia (Prof Clare Collins research group)
  • University of Sydney, Australia (Prof Louise Baur)
  • University of Warwick (Dr Karen Rees and Dr Lena Al-Kudairy)
  • Durham University (Prof Carolyn Summerbell’s research group)
  • University Newcastle, UK (Prof Ashley Adamson’s research group)
  • University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland (Dr Nathalie Farpour-Lambert)
  • Erasmus MC, Netherlands (Prof Hein Raat’s research group)
  • Cornell University, USA (Prof Patricia Cassano’s research group)

Enterprise Interest and Activities

Louisa has a part time (2d/wk) secondment to Public Health England diet and obesity team where she is one of their specialist academic advisors.

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

Louisa currently teaches on the new Doctorate of Public Health programme, as well as providing obesity masterclasses and training across the different degree programmes. She also supervises a number of Masters and PhD students.

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Projects 2008 2009

Research Output 2005 2019

Randomized Controlled Trials
Weights and Measures
Self Report

A mixed method evaluation of adult tier 2 lifestyle weight management service provision across a county in Northern England.

Ells, L., Watson, P., Carlebach, S., O'Malley, C., Jones, D., Machaira, T., Whittaker, V., Clements, H., Walker, P., Needham, K., Summerbell, C. D. C., Coulton, V. & Araújo-Soares, V., 1 Jun 2018, In : Clinical obesity. 8, 3, p. 191-202 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Life Style
Weights and Measures
Weight Loss
Morbid Obesity

Behaviour-changing interventions for the treatment of overweight or obesity in school children aged 6-11 years

Brown, T., Mead, E. & Ells, L., 19 Sep 2018, (Accepted/In press) In : JAMA Pediatrics.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Age Groups
1 Citations

Diet, genes, and obesity: Genetic predisposition to obesity is no barrier to successful weight management

Ells, L., Demaio, A. & Farpour-Lambert, N., 10 Jan 2018, In : BMJ (Online). 360, 2 p., k7.

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialResearch

Open Access
Genetic Predisposition to Disease
Weights and Measures

Googling ‘Water Fluoridation’ in the UK

Vasantavada, P., Ells, L., Sanderson, R. A. & Zohoori, F., 2018, In : Journal of Dental Research.

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articleResearchpeer-review