Member Listing


Soren Brage


MRC Epidemiology Unit




Principal Investigator

Research Summary

Physical activity and fitness are key factors in obesity and metabolic disease, as well as in many other chronic diseases. However, these associations are still not completely clear. A major reason for this is that physical activity is difficult to measure accurately, particularly in large scale epidemiological studies.

The overall aims of the physical activity programme are to:

develop and evaluate methods for reliable and valid measurement of physical activity and fitness in free-living populations
describe the variation in physical activity, sedentary behaviours, and fitness in different populations, across different locations, and how activity and fitness has changed over time
understand the role of physical activity, sedentary behaviours, and fitness in the development and prevention of disease
understand how genes and other biological factors influence physical activity and sedentary behaviour

Our work has resulted in detailed evaluations of objective and self-report methods for measuring physical activity, which we have implemented in large-scale epidemiological studies. This allows us to study differences in activity behaviours between different populations, locations, and over time. We also contribute to the Unit’s work on examining the environmental, personal and social influences that determine physical activity levels in different populations.

We collaborate with other Unit programmes to study the genetic determinants of activity and fitness. Within the Unit we lead the work on investigating how non-genetic biological factors relate to activity, such as the influence of birth weight, early growth and development during infancy on physical activity levels and obesity in later life.

We investigate the relationships between physical activity and fitness with obesity and metabolic disorders across the life course and ultimately how this impacts on hard disease endpoints, including mortality. We also collaborate with others, both within the Unit and externally, to study activity behaviours and their relationship with health in specific populations or patient groups, and in evaluating the effect of interventions aimed at increasing physical activity.



Selected Publications

Brage S, Brage N, Franks PW, Ekelund U, Wong M-Y, Froberg K, Wareham NJ. Branched equation modelling of accelerometry and heart rate monitoring improves the estimation of directly measured physical activity energy expenditure. J Appl Phys 96(1):343-351, 2004

Brage S, Wedderkopp N, Ekelund U, Franks PW, Wareham NJ, Andersen LB, Froberg K Features of the metabolic syndrome are associated with objectively measured physical activity and fitness in Danish children. The European Youth Heart Study (EYHS) Diabetes Care 27(9): 2141-2148, 2004

Brage S, Ekelund U, Brage N, Hennings MA, Froberg K, Franks PW and Wareham NJ. Hierarchy of individual calibration for heart rate and acceleration to measure physical activity intensity. J Appl Phys 103(2): 682-92, 2007

Stegle O, Fallert SV, MacKay DJC, Brage S. Gaussian Process Robust Regression for Noisy Heart Rate Data. IEEE Trans Biomed Eng 55(9): 2143-51, 2008

Greenfield J, Miller J, Keogh J, Henning E, Satterwhite JH, Cameron GS, Astruc B, Mayer J, Brage S, See TC, Lomas DJ, O’Rahilly S, Farooqi S. Modulation of Human Blood Pressure by Central Melanocortinergic Pathways. N Eng J Med 360: 44-52, 2009

Assah F, Ekelund U, Brage S, Mbanya JC, Wareham NJ. Urbanization, physical activity, and metabolic health in sub-Saharan Africa. Diab Care 34(2): 491-6, 2011

Golubic R, Martin KR, Ekelund U, Hardy R, Kuh D, Wareham NJ, Cooper R, Brage S. Levels of physical activity among a nationally representative sample of people in early old age: results of objective and self-reported assessments. IJBNPA 11(58):1-17, 2014

Brage S, Westgate K, Franks PW, Stegle O, Wright A, Ekelund U, Wareham NJ. Estimation of free-living energy expenditure by heart rate and movement sensing: A doubly-labelled water study. PLOS ONE 10(9):e0137206, 2015