We are creating a unified UKRI website that brings together the existing research council, Innovate UK and Research England websites.
If you would like to be involved in its development let us know.

Site search
Back to listing

Boyd Orr Cohort

About the cohort

Start date: 1937 (sustained cohort funding from 1988)
Age at recruitment: 0-19 (51-70 when cohort received sustained funding)
Sample size at recruitment: 4,397
Estimated current sample size: 799

The Boyd Orr cohort is an historical cohort study carried out by the University of Bristol School of Social & Community Medicine to investigate the long term impact of children’s diet, growth, living conditions and health on adult cardiovascular and other chronic diseases. It is based on the long-term follow-up of 4,999 children who were surveyed in the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust’s study of Family Diet and Health in Pre-War Britain (1937-1939). With funding from the British Heart Foundation, the cohort was established in 1988 by Professors George Davey Smith and Stephen Frankel who retrieved the original research records of the pre-war survey from the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen.

There have been three phases of follow up. Notification of occurrence of death, cancer registration, emigration, and area of current residence is updated approximately every 2 years. Between 1997 and 1998 a follow-up questionnaire survey re-established contact with subjects and in 2002-03 follow-up to obtain physiological measurements and blood assays was undertaken.

Findings from the cohort to date have investigated a range of disease endpoints, particularly coronary heart disease and cancer, in relation to infant and childhood diet, and markers of childhood nutritional status (body mass index, leg length and height).

Core funders

  • British Heart Foundation 
  • Wellcome Trust 
  • World Cancer Research Fund 
  • Medical Research Council


Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk/social-community-medicine/projects/boyd-orr/about/

Principal Investigator: Professor Richard Martin, Professor David Gunnell, Professor George Davey-Smith


Boyd Orr Cohort Study
School of Social and Community Medicine
University of Bristol
Canynge Hall
39 Whatley Road
Bristol, BS8 2PS




Cohort start year: 1937

Page last updated: 25 Feb 2015


Page last updated: 25 Feb 2015


  • Gender: Male, Female
  • Sample size: 0-4,999
  • Age: 0 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 39, 40 to 59, 60 to 100
  • Anthropometric: Height, Weight, Waist circumference, Hip circumference, Blood pressure
  • Physical: Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Musculoskeletal
  • Lifestyle: Smoking, Physical activity, Dietary habits, Alcohol
  • Socio-economic: Occupation, Finances, Family circumstances, Housing, Education
  • Biological samples: Blood