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CLOSER's first harmonised dataset available from the the UK Data Service

Article dated: 9 October 2017

The UK Data Service is pleased to announce the first harmonised datasets, created by CLOSER (Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources) are now available to download. The datasets harmonise body size and body composition variables (height, weight and BMI) across five of the UK's prestigious cohort studies:

  • National Survey of Health and Development (NSHD)
  • National Child Development Study 1958 (NCDS)
  • 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70)
  • Millennium Cohort Study (MCS)
  • Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)

Professor Rebecca Hardy, along with her team, based at the MRC Unit for Lifelong Health and ageing at UCL, have harmonised the datasets by recoding measurements of body size and composition, such as converting from imperial to metric, so they could be compared across different generations.The harmonised data have been used to support their research, into the changes in BMI and increase in obesity over the generations finding that three generations of less advantaged children faced a higher risk of obesity in middle age than their better-off peers. Read the full paper.

Professor Alison Park, Director of CLOSER notes that, 'As an experienced researcher I know the huge challenges involved in creating harmonised datasets from different data sources, and the importance of ensuring the methods used can be usefully exploited by other researchers. Longitudinal harmonisation provides fascinating insights as to how the UK is changing over time, and I’m delighted CLOSER is helping make this work easier'.

The UK Data Service worked closely with staff from the cohort studies to ensure a suitable release pathway for the data from each study. Louise Corti, Functional Director for Collections Development and Data Publishing at the UK Data Service who sits on the CLOSER Leadership Team, commented that 'We are absolutely delighted to have received data from the prestigious MRC funded studies and hope there will be further opportunities to include their data alongside the ESRC data assets in other harmonised data products'.CLOSER aims to maximise the use, value and impact of the UK's longitudinal studies and as a key partner, the UK Data Service encourages other researchers from academia and policy sectors to make use of the new datasets.

Download the data:

Harmonised Height, Weight and BMI in Five Longitudinal Cohort Studies: National Child Development Study, 1970 British Cohort Study and Millennium Cohort Study

Harmonised Height, Weight and BMI in Five Longitudinal Cohort Studies: MRC National Survey of Health and Development: Special Licence Access

Harmonised Height, Weight and BMI in Five Longitudinal Cohort Studies: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children: Special Licence Access

Read the full paper Socioeconomic inequalities in body mass index across adulthood: coordinated analyses of individual participant data from three British birth cohort studies initiated in 1946, 1958 and 1970.

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