Data from the first adult biomedical sweep of the 1970 British Cohort Study now available

News, Data release
2 October 2019

New data from the Age 46 Sweep of the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) are now available for researchers to download from the UK Data Service.

The new data, produced by the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies include metabolic health measurements and results from physical health assessments for the first time since study participants were children. The data also cover various aspects of the cohort members’ lives as they reached middle age, from family and housing, to employment, income, mental health and cognitive function.

More than 8,500 cohort members were visited by interviewers and trained nurses.  The main fieldwork took place between July 2016 and July 2018. Nurses took a blood sample, from which cholesterol and blood sugar levels were derived, measured blood pressure, and asked participants to undertake physical assessments to measure grip strength and balance.

The study participants completed a face-to-face interview, an online self-completion questionnaire, a series of memory tests to measure cognitive function, and also kept a record of their diet on one weekday and one weekend day across a seven-day period. These data are all available for download from UK Data Service now.

Participants were also asked to wear a physical activity monitor and complete a sleep diary for one week. These activity data require considerable processing and will be deposited in late 2019.

These new data will open up opportunities for cross-cohort comparisons of midlife health and cognitive function, since the 1946 MRC National Survey of Health and Development and 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) carried out similar biomedical surveys when their participants were in their mid-40s, and NCDS also used the same cognitive assessments in their Age 50 Sweep.

The Age 46 Sweep collected data on a number of topics that were included in BCS70 for the first time, including medication, zero-hours contracts, and e-cigarette smoking.

Professor Alice Sullivan, BCS70 director, said: “As Generation X enters middle age our study participants have provided invaluable information that will help to answer vital questions about metabolic health and physical functioning, which will enable researchers, health practitioners and policymakers to learn more about healthy ageing.

“As the British population gets older, policymakers are keen to learn more about the relationship between cognitive function and the risks of developing dementia and other disabilities in later life. Looking at the results of the memory tests carried out in this survey, researchers can begin to investigate how cognitive function changes from midlife, and will be able to track the development of dementia as people age.”

Download the data

The data are available under End User Licence from the UK Data Archive. To download the data (SN:8547) and accompanying documentation, visit the UK Data Service website for the Age 46 Sweep.

Read more about the 1970 British Cohort Study Age 46 Biomedical Sweep

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