Dr Barbara Jefferis

Physical Activity Research Group (PARG) Lead

Professional Biography

Dr Barbara Jefferis leads the UCL Physical Activity Research Group (PARG). She is an epidemiologist by training, and has worked at UCL in the field of health behaviours and prevention of chronic disease since 2000. She completed her PhD with an MRC Fellowship, followed by NIHR Post-Doctoral Fellowship and is now a Lecturer in Physical Activity Epidemiology at UCL Department of Primary Care and Population Health.

She is particularly interested in the protective role of physical activity for healthy ageing given that older adults are the most rapidly increasing segment of the population and have very low activity levels, so there is great potential for health benefits from increasing physical activity levels in this age group. She has published papers investigating what levels of activity in later life reduce the risks of important conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. She also studies how physical activity can prevent the onset of disability, frailty and falls, all of which are important for good quality of life in older age.

She has been involved in intervention studies to find ways of increasing physical activity levels and reducing sedentary behaviours in older adults, and in the use of physical activity as a therapeutic intervention in specific health conditions. She is experienced in the use of objective measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour in large population-based studies. From a policy perspective, she is involved in an economic evaluation of physical activity interventions at different stages of the lifecourse.

She has written scientific papers on physical activity, lifestyle factors and health, currently supervises PhD students studying the determinants and consequences of physical activity in epidemiologic studies of older adults. She is supported by the British Heart Foundation, National Institute of Health Research and National School of Primary Care Research.