1000 Families Study - 50 Years Old in 1997


Yearly assessments of the Red Spots ended after their 15th birthdays. However, in the early 1990s the findings of research elsewhere began to suggest that birth weight may have a direct link to health in later life (i.e. that smaller babies have an increased risk of health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  This hypothesis became know as ‘the Barker hypothesis’ and was later expanded to include other conditions such as obesity, osteoporosis and depression. It was recognised that a new follow-up of the 1000 Families Study could provide an excellent basis to test this hypothesis and research using the 1000 Families data began again. 

An enormous exercise was undertaken to track down the Red Spots.  Initially a large number of participants were traced through NHS records and their GPs.  Subsequently publicity helped us to make contact with further Red Spots.  We received phone calls and contact from as far away as Canada, Australia and South Africa from participants who had heard of the new follow up.  In the end, 832 Red Spots were traced (of whom 88 had sadly died).  We sent out lengthy questionnaires and had 574 returned.  Of these, 412 agreed to visit us for a clinical assessment.  Over 50% of the original study had returned a questionnaire and 36% attended for clinical examination including a large number now resident outside of the North of England.  This is further evidence of the strength of the 1000 Families Study – few studies manage such a follow-up over a few years – never mind 50 years!

The collated information has provided some fascinating insights:
Approximately 600 Red Spots took up smoking – spending about £18.5million on cigarettes in real terms.  56, 000 lbs of fat are eaten by the group a year.  The group uses 661 million calories a year and weighed 11,200 stone (more than half the group are classified as obese).  18 million units of alcohol have been consumed and laid end to end, the group would fit round St James’ Park twice…

Work is still very much on-going, but some results are already available and detailed here.

These pages will be updated as and when new results are published.















Newcastle Thousand Families Study,
Newcastle University,
Sir James Spence Institute,
Royal Victoria Infirmary,
Queen Victoria Road,
Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 282 1353
Fax: 0191: 282 4724