Funded Projects

PHASE funding is supporting research projects that aim to foster collaborations between those with agent-based modelling skills and those researching and tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to support the development of agent‑based modelling projects that provide insights and evidence to tackle NCDs.

Leveraging local policies to improve diet: modelling the role of local interventions impacting the food environment

Professor Martin O’Flaherty, University of Liverpool

Improving dietary quality in urban areas is increasingly important in the UK not only from economic or environmental considerations, but also from health and equity perspectives. There is growing consensus among local and national policy makers that modification of neighbourhood and environmental features offers an effective and feasible opportunity for promoting healthy diets. However, there is a lack of sufficient evidence to support action to address these policy decisions, including which policies are effective or equitable, limiting our ability to support or implement healthy food environments.

This project focusses on the role of the food environment in influencing key indicators of diet quality, including intake of fruits and vegetables and consumption of take-away meals. The project aims to support local strategies to improve urban food environments by developing a spatially explicit agent-based model based on identified key local drivers of poor diet and their connections to the food environment. Agent-based models offer an effective solution to addressing the complex and reinforcing determinants of diet-related non-communicable diseases (e.g., neighbourhood-level dietary patterns and income lead to food retail location decisions). The project will build on previous agent-based modelling studies incorporating aspects of the food environment and how key actors, including retail and fast-food outlets, households and individuals, interact with it. The model developed through this project will explore key decisions made by retailers, including open/close times, and basic inventory (e.g., stocking of fruit and vegetables). Stakeholder engagement will identify potential policy windows and feasible interventions for testing, and the model will be used to test these co-produced policy scenarios for diet outcomes.

Chronic pain, mental health and employment:
the role of firms, workers and the state

Professor Matteo Richiardi, University of Essex

ABM-based Land Use-Transport Interaction (LUTI) simulation: healthier urban development and healthier travel behaviour for Greater Manchester

Dr Heeseo Rain Kwon, University of Reading

This project focusses on non-communicable disease (NCD) reduction through the creation of healthier urban development, in particular land use and transport.  Obesity and air pollution-related NCDs are associated with the built environment and physical activity where individual resident and urban development behaviours interact. By using agent-based modelling, this project aims to understand the complex non-linear and recursive patterns emerging at the system-level (e.g., land use, occupancy, and mobility culture changes) and feedback loops between healthier urban development and travel behaviour. 

The project will work with Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Transport for Greater Manchester to model residents’ active mobility (walking, cycling and bus). The model will include evidence on resident travel demand and real estate urban land use/occupation change, including working from home, in active mobility modelling by experimenting with the feedback loop between healthier urban development and healthier travel behaviour. Different policy scenarios will be tested to support NCD and inequality prevention.