Projects using GUS data

Current projects

Project Name: An appetite for life? Changing food habits and health from infancy to childhood in the context of family life in Scotland (funded by the British Academy)
Contact: Dr Valeria Skafida, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Project name: Maintaining and extending grandparent-grandchild relationships
This study aims at understanding the theoretical and practical implications of grandparent-grandchild relationships.
Contact: Eloi Ribe, The University of Edinburgh

Completed projects

Habits of a lifetime? Babies diets and family life in Scotland Valeria Skafida PhD, ESRC CASE studentship, The University of Edinburgh, completed 2011

Children’s diets in Scotland and particularly issues around increasing obesity levels have come to the fore recently. So far, however, despite the considerable research on food and diet in childhood, less attention has been paid to the diets of babies and toddlers. As patterns of food consumption set in infancy are likely to impact significantly on dietary patterns and health in later life, there is scope for research and policy which address issues of nutrition and health for toddlers, not only for children of school age or older. GUS, which focuses on, among other things, food and nutrition within the context of family life, will provide the key platform for secondary data analysis for the research. The study aims to take advantage of this large source of data and make a major contribution to our understanding of young children’s diets and how these are shaped by parental and family practices and attitudes, by wider social circumstances, and how these develop over time. It aims to produce nationally representative evidence of the food consumption patterns of babies in Scotland and asses the implications for child health and social policy.

Link to PhD thesis

Contact: Valeria Skafida on

Collaborative parenting Stephen Hinchcliffe PhD, ESRC Case Studentship, The Scottish Government, completed 2013

Detail to follow

Contact: Stephen Hinchcliffe on
Understanding the use of alcohol in pregnancy amongst women in Scotland Katherine Ford PhD, ESRC and The Scottish Government Joint PhD Scheme, The University of Liverpool

The overall aim of the project is to understand women’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy in Scotland. Data from the first year of GUS has been used to inform the first stage of this research. Three logistic regression models were run with the three dependent variables of alcohol consumption in pregnancy, smoking in pregnancy and low birth weight. Follow the link below to read about the findings:

Contact: Katherine Ford on


The social stratification of childcare Judith Mabelis, MSc Dissertation, the University of Edinburgh

This project looks at the use of formal group childcare (including time spent) amongst the cohorts at three different ages (10 months, 22.5 months and 34 months) according to certain socio-characteristics including family income and maternal level of education, class and employment status. The research also considered the effect of maternal education on use of formal group care, when controlling for the other variables listed above. The dissertation discussed the use of formal group care within the wider context of equality of access to education.


Exploring the impact of assets and vulnerabilities of families living in poverty, and persistent poverty, on children’s early cognitive, social, emotional and behavioural outcomes, as a predictor of future educational attainment Morag Treanor, PhD, University of Edinburgh

There is a strong association between children’s early cognitive, social, emotional and behavioural (CSEB) outcomes on school readiness and future educational attainment. Living in poverty, and persistent poverty, is a known risk factor of poor early outcomes and future educational achievement. The principal aim of this PhD is to explore the impact of assets and vulnerabilities, including family circumstances and change in circumstances, across time, of families living in poverty, and persistent poverty in Scotland, on children’s early CSEB outcomes, as a predictor of future educational attainment, using the Growing up in Scotland (GUS) data. To achieve this aim, it will employ longitudinal and cross-sectional quantitative methods to analyse 5 sweeps of GUS data.

This study seeks to address the impact of a far wider set of circumstances, and change in circumstances, longitudinally, on children’s CSEB outcomes of children of families living in poverty and families not living in poverty, as a means of identifying factors that are beneficial or detrimental to cognitive, social, emotional and behavioural ability and therefore as a means of identifying factors that can lead to predicted improved educational attainment, than has previously been undertaken in the literature. This study will explore the impact of families living in poverty’s assets and vulnerabilities, holistically, to establish if and which adverse or advantageous circumstances and events have an impact on children’s early CSEB outcomes, and will compare the impact of these assets and vulnerabilities on children whose families are not living in poverty.

Link to PhD thesis

Contact: Morag Treanor,

Exploring social and neighbourhood differences in parents’ use of personal contacts and statutory services Tania Wood, PhD, University of Edinburgh

This project uses the first four sweeps of birth cohort data from Growing up in Scotland (GUS) to look at whether parenting is a class issue?  Although factors at the child, family and neighbourhood levels influence children’s outcomes, this work will focus on the family and neighbourhood levels, and in particular on the ways in which parents with different levels of status and power differ in their use of networks of personal contacts and statutory and non-statutory services.  It will also look at what effect, if any, neighbourhood context has on these aspects of parents’ behaviour.  Finally, the project will examine whether there is any meaningful association between parents’ use of networks and services and their children’s behavioural development by age 4.  This study sits within policy debates around, on the one hand, social reproduction and the intergenerational transmission of inequality, and on the other, the professionalisation of parenting.

Link to PhD thesis

Publication: A Model Mother? Family policy and childrearing in post-devolution Scotland

Contact: Tania Wood,


Feeding environments of infants and toddlers  

Infant feeding in relation to eating patterns in the second year of life and weight status in the fourth year

Elizheeba C Abraham, Jon Godwin, Andrea Sherriff and Julie Armstrong

Link to journal article

Contacts: Dr Julie Armstrong , Senior Lecturer in Public Health Nutrition, School of Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University


Television viewing and diet in young children: the role of the family

PhD commencing autumn 2011 (delayed), University of Aberdeen

Contact: Dr Diane Jackson, Aberdeen Centre for Energy Regulation and Obesity

Acceptance and use of corporal punishment of children and emotional and behavioural outcomes in a Scottish child cohort

Sonya Scott, MSc Dissertation, University of Glasgow

This project looks at the association between acceptance of smacking utility and its subsequent use and then use of ever smacking by age 1-2y and SDQ results in 3-4 year olds for the birth cohort. 

‘Early parental physical punishment and emotional and behavioural outcomes in preschool children’

Link to journal article
Contact: Sonya Scott

Factors associated with low birth weight in Scotland: A secondary analysis of the Growing Up in Scotland study

Saadiyah Rao, MSc Dissertation, University of Edinburgh 2011

This project studied the association of maternal health, behaviours, and socio-demographic conditions during pregnancy with low birth weight (LBW), using the birth cohort data. The multivariate analysis has shown strong significant association of LBW with ethnicity, maternal employment, smoking during pregnancy and prematurity. Conversely, no association was observed for known predictors such as maternal age, birth order, gender of the baby, planning of pregnancy and alcohol intake. Besides, odds ratios were also not significant for maternal education, socioeconomic status, antenatal care attendance, and maternal disease conditions. These finding were further assured by our sensitivity analysis. Contact:

Exploring non-resident fatherhood in Britain: Dynamics, child well-being and implication for law and policy in children’s early years

Sarah Rogers, PhD, University of Edinburgh

Non-resident fatherhood has long been an issue of concern to policy makers, practitioners and society at large. Contact and the maintenance of relationships between non-resident fathers and children is widely regarded as beneficial, if not crucial to child well-being, with such an approach being evident in the law and policy of Scotland and England & Wales. Despite the wealth of research on on-resident fatherhood, such assertions find no conclusive support in empirical evidence. Previous research however, has predominantly focused on adolescent well-being following relationship breakdown with little consideration of non-resident fatherhood in children’s early years. The considerable increase in early years’ non-resident fatherhood, changing views of fatherhood and growing evidence of the importance of the early years to future outcomes provides support for the assertion that the experience of non-resident fathers in the early years may be different from other stages.

This research will explore the dynamics of non-resident fatherhood and its impact on child well-being in the early years through secondary quantitative data analysis of two large national longitudinal datasets, GUS and the MCS (Millennium Cohort Study). The legal and policy implications of the project’s empirical findings will be considered for Scotland, and England and Wales.

Contact: Sarah Rogers

You are What You Eat? Meal Type, Socio-economic Status and Cognitive Ability in Childhood

Sophie von Stumm, ESRC Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, Department of Psychology

Socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with better cognitive performance and academic achievement throughout childhood and adolescence. Indeed, SES related differences in cognition and achievement are apparent before children even begin formal education.  Among the most-cited mechanisms that explain the association between SES and cognition is the differential access to resources, which is exemplified in terms of dietary intake and quality of food supply.  Thus, this research project focuses on the types of meals that children eat per week, and how meal types affect cognitive performance and cognitive development in childhood.

Link to journal article

Contact: Sophie von Stumm

Breastfeeding and Childhood Asthma

Kim L Ah –See, BMedSci Epidemiology, Dissertation, University of Edinburgh 2012

Secondary analysis of GUS data to investigate associations between breastfeeding and asthma at age 5.  Found that breastfeeding was not significantly associated with the odds of asthma at five years of age. However, the other established benefits of breastfeeding mean that it should still be encouraged, as part of public health policy.


What predicts persistent early conduct problems? Evidence from the Growing Up in Scotland cohort Journal article:  Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health

Link to journal article

Dr Phil Wilson et al, 2012

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