Welcome to the website of the EC funded project – I.Family

“You are what you eat and the way that you eat it! Investigate and report…”

The EC-funded project I.Family will do just that, helping to identify the reasons why young people in Europe eat the way they do and how this influences lifelong health.  European citizens in 2000 lost 56 million years of healthy life due to nutrition-related diseases.

Many factors come in to play.  Family time and influence are challenged by modern independent lifestyles.  Processed foods, drinks and snacks are readily available.  Marketing and peer pressures, accompanied by screen-based distractions that replace and a built environment that reduces opportunities for physical activity, all play their part, under-pinned by learnt taste preferences and genetic predispositions.

I.Family will make a significant contribution to understanding the interplay of these complex factors and reducing adverse health results.  This EC funded research project will follow up the large IDEFICS children’s cohort when they are between childhood and their teenage years, a period of great change. I.Family will provide further insight into the most important influences on this group of young people, their lifestyle behaviour and their eating habits

The project’s acronym – I.Family – highlights the project’s focus on both the influences on the individual and on their family.  The I.Family Study will re-assess families as their children move into adolescence, identifying those families that have adopted a healthy approach to food,eating habits and lifestyle choice and those that have not.

The focus will be on the family environment, socio-behavioural and genetic factors.  Groups with contrasting dietary profiles will be studied, looking at measures of brain activity, the relation of genes to food choice, biological and genetic basis for taste thresholds, sleep patterns, sedentary time, physical activity and impact of their local built environment.

The project will help us understand the biological, behavioural, social and environmental factors that drive dietary behaviour as children journey towards adulthood.  It will thus be of interest to policy-makers and healthcare professionals keen to ensure how best to support families to achieve healthier lifestyles.

Families and individuals themselves will also benefit from the clarity provided by I.Family’s results, helping them to establish the ground rules that will lead to enjoyment of a longer, healthier life.


The I.Family study covers research areas which will examine family, environment, social, behavioural and genetic factors.

It draws on a wide range of scientific disciplines to build an integrated picture of the overall study area, with 9 different work packages including overall project management and cascade/communications, covering:

  • Epidemiology – causes, distribution, and control of disease in populations
  • Assessment of dietary behaviours
  • Biological and neurobehavioral susceptibility factors
  • Physical activity and the built environment
  • The family and its environment
  • Consumer health behaviour and environmental factors
  • Consumer awareness, ethical acceptability and policy

The findings of the work packages will be drawn together and communicated widely to support policy development and to drive behavioural/dietary change and shared regularly through the project’s  own and peer reviewed publications.


Drawing together 15 different partners from 11 EC countries, the project is coordinated by the Bremen Institute for Prevention Research and Social Medicine – BIPS – and the University of Bremen under the leadership of Professor Wolfgang Ahrens and Professor Iris Pigeot… More


I Family is building on data collected from over 10,000 children under 10 years of age in the IDEFICS Study as they move into adolescence.

Running for 5 years from March 2012, I.Family will take research on dietary behaviour to the next level, providing insight into the most important influences on Europe’s young people, their lifestyle behaviours and their eating habits as they move into adolescence.  I.Family will re-assess children and their families – identifying those that have adopted and maintained a healthy lifestyle and approach to food, eating habits and lifestyles and those that have not.


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