Human Nutrition Research Centre

Staff Profile

Dr Laura Basterfield

Research Associate



I graduated from Newcastle University in 1999 with a BSc (Hons) in Physiological Sciences. After spending 5 months in Australia I returned to the UK and began working as a Respiratory Physiologist at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 2002 I started my PhD back at Newcastle University investigating the effects of exercise on a mouse model of intestinal cancer. My interest in exercise and physical activity for health led to my first post-doctoral research post on the Gateshead Millennium Study (

I am currently a Research Associate, investigating physical activity in childhood, and the associations between physical fitness, outdoor play and mental wellbeing.

Area of expertise

  • Physical activity
  • Fitness
  • Body measurements in children


  • PhD Newcastle University
  • BSc (Hons) Physiological Sciences, Newcastle University

Google Scholar: Click here.



Research Interests

My main research interests lie with physical activity in children, but I also have a general interest in the effect of activity and exercise on health.

Current Work 

My current role is investigating the associations between outdoor play, physical fitness and mental wellbeing in children. Children aged 8-10 years old at a local primary school have completed fitness testing, body measurements and questionnaires on their quality of life and access to outdoor play. The positive associations of time spent outdoors and in green space are being established for adults, but data in children are lacking. This pilot study will help us to establish any associations, and provide the basis for a larger study.

Previous Work

From 2006 I have been involved with the Gateshead Millennium Study (, a longitudinal birth cohort of over one thousand children that started in 1999. At ages 7, 9, 12 and 15 years we have visited the children at their schools and administered questionnaires and measured their body composition, diet and physical activity.  I was responsible for analysing the physical activity measurements which are recorded using accelerometers - a small, portable device which measures changes in acceleration. I also looked at the associations between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and body composition in the children.

I have also provided expertise to other research projects measuring physical activity in their participants.  

Other Expertise

I am a qualified gym instructor, allowing me to supervise and instruct adults in the gym, and I am also qualified to take activity classes with children.
My involvement in the Gateshead Millennium Study involved taking skinfold and bony frame measures on 6-8 year old children and I am a Level 1 ISAK anthropometrist.
I am a qualified Respiratory Physiologist.



I contribute to teaching the BSc (Hons) Food and Human Nutrition final year students, in the Sport and Exercise Nutrition module. I give lectures on Exercise and Cancer, and Exercise and Sport in Children.