The coordinating hub of the Upstream Team is based at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. In several projects we focus on different contexts, lifestyle behaviours and health outcomes in adults. We are building on the current scientific knowledge and regularly develop new methods and techniques to move beyond the state of the art:


SUPREME NUDGE (SUstainable PREvention of cardioMEtabolic risk through NUDGing hEalth behaviors)

SUPREME NUDGE is a 5-year project financed by the Dutch Heart Foundation and ZonMw, a Dutch national funding body for medical and health-care related research. With SUPREME NUDGE we expand a previous successful Dutch supermarket pricing strategy intervention, and incorporate promising elements such as nudging and ICT applications to provide real-time and context-specific physical activity feedback.

Targeting the environment in which health behaviour choices are made in can reduce cardiometabolic risk. Supermarkets form one of the most important point-of-choice settings with the potential to directly influence purchasing behaviors. ‘Nudges’ (small environmental encouragements) target the quick, automatic choices and do not require conscious decision making, and pricing strategies can seduce consumers to buy healthier alternatives. Such environmental cues can make it easier to initiate and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and as such, to improve cardiometabolic health. In addition, the use of theory-based mobile applications is an effective way to provide tailored and context-specific feedback on physical activity behaviors through the stimulation of ‘goal setting’ and ‘self-management’.

We will investigate the effects of this approach on dietary behaviours, physical activity and established cardiometabolic risk factors in adults with a lower socio-economic status. Using principles from Participatory Action Research and systems thinking, we will consult with the relevant stakeholders to explore options for upscaling and further implementation in society. Outcomes will provide policy- and practice relevant evidence with clear, stepwise and realistic leverage points for helping individuals to maintain healthy behaviors and improve their cardiometabolic health by making the healthy choice the easy choice.


SPOTLIGHT (Sustainable prevention of obesity through integrated strategies)

SPOTLIGHT is a European Commission funded research project that started in 2011. A systems approach was adopted across several independent but inter-related work packages. This was done by identifying mediators of successful outcomes in individual-level obesity interventions, by reviewing the state of evidence on social and physical environmental factors related to obesity, and evaluating the reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance (RE-AIM) of multi-level interventions reported on in the scientific literature, but also of multilevel initiatives that lacked a theoretical basis and were not conducted as part of scientific research. We also conducted qualitative analyses of enhancing and impeding factors relating to these multi-level interventions. Outcomes of work packages were used to inform the design of a cross-European survey and a virtual neighbourhood audit, aimed to gain understanding of the ways in which diverse factors influence the weight status of individuals, underlying obesogenic behaviours, and the social and physical environmental contexts in which they take place, within a cross-European perspective.


ENDEAVOR (Environmental determinants of lifestyle behaviors and risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases)

This project further builds on the New Hoorn Study and the Diabetes Care System. Information on the built environment of participants will be added using geographic information systems (GIS), in order to comprehensively examine determinants of lifestyle behaviours and diabetes risk, depression and cardiovascular disease.


Upstream determinants of lifestyle Behaviours and blood quality

In this project we are collaborating with Sanquin Donor Studies, and focus on environmental determinants of lifestyle behaviours and their effects on blood parameters.


DEDIPAC (Determinants of diet and physical activity)

DEDIPAC is a Knowledge Hub; a multidisciplinary consortium of scientists with currently nearly 300 researchers from 68 research centres in 12 countries across Europe. The objective of the DEDIPAC KH is "to understand the determinants, at both the individual and group levels, regarding dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviours using a broad multidisciplinary approach, including biological, ecological, psychological, sociological, economic and other socio-economic perspectives and their interrelationships, and to translate this knowledge into a more effective promotion of a healthy diet and physical activity."

The work in DEDIPAC is divided into three Thematic Areas (TAs): TA 1: Assessment and harmonisation of methods for future research, surveillance and monitoring, and evaluation of interventions and policies

TA 2: Determinants of dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviours across the life course and in vulnerable groups; TA 3: Evaluation and benchmarking of public health and policy interventions aimed at improving dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviours.


NAD - Environment and effect on lifestyle in deprived neighbourhoods

Although many environmental change interventions are being implemented in the Netherlands, it is unknown what kind of barriers and facilitating factors are associated with successful adoption of these interventions. With this project -which has been completed recently- we aimed aimed to determine success and failure factors for implementation of environmental changes to improve physical activity and healthy eating in residents of deprived neighbourhoods. In addition we aimed to explore the perspectives of these residents: How they used their direct environment with regard to physical activity and dietary behaviour, and what environmental changes were required to improve these behaviours.


GECCO (GeoHealth Cohort Consortium)

The EMGO+ Institute initiated and funded the GeoHealth Cohort Consortium (GECCO). In GECCO, databases of six large-scale and ongoing cohort studies within the EMGO+ institute have been enriched with a variety of existing geo-data. The GeoHealth Cohort Consortium stimulates large-scale research studies on environmental impacts on health in the Netherlands. In particular, the collaboration between cohort studies within this consortium is of added value, because it increases power of analyses and makes analyses on specific subgroups possible.




 Recent publications in international scientific journals by the Upstream Team:



  • Brug J, van der Ploeg HP, Loyen A, Ahrens W, Allais O, Andersen LF, Cardon G, Capranica L, Chastin S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, De Craemer M, Donnelly A, Ekelund U, Finglas P, Flechtner-Mors M, Hebestreit A, Kubiak T, Lanza M, Lien N, MacDonncha C, Mazzocchi M, Monsivais P, Murphy M, Nicolaou M, Nöthlings U, O'Gorman D, Renner B, Roos G, van den Berg M, Schulze M, Steinacker J, Stronks K, Volkert D,  Lakerveld J. (2017) Determinants of Diet and Physical Activity (DEDIPAC): a summary of findings. IJBNPA. 14:150. Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, Loyen A, Ling F, De Craemer M, van der ploeg HP, O'Gorman D, Carlin A, Capranica L, Kalter J, Oppert J-M, Chastin S, Cardon G, Brug J, MacDonncha C. (2017) Identifying and sharing data for secondary data analysis of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and their determinants across the life course in Europe: general principles and an example from DEDIPAC. BMJ Open. 7:e017489. Full Text
  • Burgoine T, Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, Forouhi NG, Griffin SJ, Brage S, Wareham NJ,  Monsivais P. (2017) Interplay of socioeconomic status and supermarket distance is associated with excess obesity risk: a UK cross-sectional study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14: 1290. Full Text
  • van Nassau F, Mackenbach JD, Compernolle S, de Bourdeaudhuij I, Lakerveld J, van der Ploeg HP. (2017) Individual and environmental correlates of objectively measured sedentary time in Dutch and Belgian adults. PLoS One. 2017 Oct 17;12(10):e0186538. Full Text
  • Loyen A, Nicolaou M, Snijder MB, Peters R, Stronks K, Langoien P, van der Ploeg HP, Brug J, Lakerveld J. (2017) Objectively measured sedentary time among five ethnic groups in Amsterdam: the HELIUS study. PLoS One. 12(7): e0182077. Full Text

  • Carlin A, Perchoux C, Puggina A, Aleksovska K, Buck C, Burns C, Cardon G, Simon C, Ciarapica D, Condello G, Coppinger T, Cortis C, D'Haese S, De Craemer M, Di Blasio A, Hansen S, Iacoviello L, Issartel J, Izzicupo P, Jaschke L, Kanning M, Kennedy A, Lakerveld J, Chun Man Ling F, Luzak A, Napolitano G, Nazare J-A, Pischon T, Polito A, Sannella A, Schulz H, Sohun R, Steinbrecher A, Schlicht W, Ricciardi W, MacDonncha C, Capranica L, Boccia S. (2017) A life course examination of the physical environmental determinants of physical activity behaviour: a "Determinants of Diet and Physical Activity" (DEDIPAC) umbrella systematic literature review. PloS One. 12(8): e0182083. Full Text

  • Compernolle S, De Cocker K, Mackenbach JD, van Nassau F, Lakerveld J, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I. (2017) Objectively measured physical environmental neighbourhood factors are not associated with accelerometer-determined total sedentary time in adults. IJBNPA 14;94. Full Text

  •  Lakerveld J, Loyen A, Schotman N, Peeters CFW, Cardon G, van der Ploeg HP, Lien N, Chastin S, Brug J. (2017) Sitting too much: A hierarchy of socio-demographic correlates. Prev. Med. 101:77-83. Full Text

  • de Pinho MGM, Mackenbach JD, Charreire H, Oppert J-M, Bárdos H, Glonti K, Rutter H, Compernolle S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Beulens JWJ, Brug J, Lakerveld J. (2017) Exploring the relationship between perceived barriers to healthy eating and dietary behaviours in European adults. European Journal of Nutrition. Eur. J. Nutr. [epub ahead of print]. Full Text

  • Timmermans M, Mackenbach JD, Charreire H, Bárdos H, Compernolle S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Oppert J-M,  Rutter H, McKee M, Lakerveld J. (2017) Exploring the mediating role of energy balance-related behaviours in the association between sleep duration and obesity in European adults. The SPOTLIGHT project. Preventive Medicine. in press.
  • Lakerveld J, Mackenbach JD. (2017) The upstream determinants of adult obesity. Obesity Facts10:216-222. Full Text
  • Visscher TLS, Lakerveld  J,  Olsen N, Küpers L, Ramalho S, Keaver L, Brei C, Bjune J-I, Ezquerro S, Yumuk V. (2017) Perceived Health Status: Is Obesity Perceived as a Risk Factor and Disease? Obesity Facts. 10:52–60. Full Text
  • Mertens L, Compernolle S, Deforche B, Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, Brug J, Roda C, Feuillet T, Oppert JM, Glonti K, Rutter H, Bardos H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Van Dyck D. (2017) Built environmental correlates of cycling for transport across Europe. Health and Place 44: 35-42. Link


  • Mackenbach JD, Bot SD, Nijpels G, Lakerveld J. Association between social network characteristics and lifestyle behaviours in adults at risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0165041. Full Text

  • Roda C, Charreire H, Feuillet T, Mackenbach JD, Compernolle S, Glonti K, Bárdos H, Rutter H, McKee M, Brug J, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Lakerveld J, Oppert J-M. (2016) Lifestyle correlates of overweight in adults: a hierarchical approach (the SPOTLIGHT project). IJBNPA 12:114. Full Text

  • Compernolle S, De Cocker K, Roda C, Mackenbach JD, Oppert J-M, Lakerveld J, Glonti K, Bardos, H, Rutter H, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I. (2016) Physical environmental correlates of domain-specific sedentary behaviours across five European regions (the SPOTLIGHT project) PLOS ONE. 1(10): e0164812. Full Text
  • Compernolle S, De Cocker K, Teixeira PJ, Oppert J-M, Roda C, Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, McKee M, Glonti K, Rutter H, Bardos H, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I. (2016) The association between domain-specific sedentary behaviours and dietary habits in European adults: a cross-sectional analysis of the SPOTLIGHT survey. BMC Public Health. 16:1057. Full Text
  • Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, van Oostveen Y, Compernolle S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Bardos H, Rutter H, Glonti K, Oppert J-M, Charreire H, Brug J, Nijpels G. (2016) The mediating role of social capital in the association between neighbourhood income inequality and body mass index. European Journal of Publc Health. Full Text
  • Mackenbach JD et al. (2016) The influence of urban land-use and public transport facilities on active commuting in Wellington, New Zealand: active transport forecasting using the WILUTE model. Sustainability, 8(3), 242. Full Text
  • Loyen A, van der Ploeg HP, Bauman A, Brug J, Lakerveld J. (2016) European sitting championship: Prevalence and correlates of self-reported sitting time in the 28 European Union Member States. PLoS One. 11(3):e0149320. Full Text
  • O’Donoghue G, Perchoux C, Mensah K, Lakerveld J, van der Ploeg HP, Bernaards C, Chastin SFM, Simon C, O’Gorman D, Nazare J-A. (2016) A systematic review of correlates of sedentary behaviour in adults aged 18–65 years: a socio-ecological approach. BMC Public Health. 16:163. Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, Glonti K, Rutter H. (2016) Individual and contextual correlates of obesity-related behaviours and obesity: the SPOTLIGHT project. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:5-8. Full Text
  • Rutter H, Glonti K, Lakerveld J. (2016) The way ahead: where next for research into obesogenic environments? Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:108-9. Full Text
  • Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, van Lenthe FJ, Kawachi I, McKee M, Compernolle S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Glonti K, Feuillet T, Oppert J-M, Nijpels G, Brug J. (2016) Neighbourhood social capital: measurement issues and associations with health outcomes. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:96-107. Full Text
  • Glonti K, Mackenbach JD, Gordeev VS, Compernolle S, Feuillet T, Roda C, Charreire H, Oppert J-M, Lakerveld J, Bárdos H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Brug J, McKee M, Rutter H. (2016) Psychosocial environment: definitions, measures and associations with weight status – a systematic review. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:81-95. Full Text
  • Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, van Lenthe FJ, Teixeira PJ, Compernolle S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Charreire H, Oppert J-M, Bárdos H, Glonti K, Rutter H, McKee M, Nijpels G, Brug J. (2016) Interactions of individual perceived barriers and neighbourhood destinations with obesity-related behaviours in Europe. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:68-80. Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, Mackenbach JD, Horvath E, Rutters F, Compernolle S, Bárdos H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Charreire H, Rutter H, Oppert J-M, McKee M, Brug J. (2016) The relation between sleep duration and sedentary behaviours in European adults. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:62-7. Full Text
  • Mertens L, Compernolle S, Gheysen F, Deforche B, Brug J, Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, De Bourdeaudhuij. (2016) Perceived environmental correlates of cycling for transport among adults in five regions of Europe. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:53-61. Full Text
  • Feuillet T, Charreire H, Roda C, Ben-Rebah M, Mackenbach JD, Compernolle S, Glonti K, Bárdos H, Rutter H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, McKee M, Brug J, Lakerveld J, Oppert J-M. (2016) Neighbourhood typology based on virtual audit of environmental obesogenic characteristics. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:19-30. Full Text
  • Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, van Lenthe FJ, Bárdos H, Glonti K, Compernolle S, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Oppert J-M, Roda C, Rutter H, Brug J, Nijpels G. (2016) Exploring why residents of socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods have less favourable perceptions of their neighbourhood environment than residents of wealthy neighbourhoods. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:42-52. Full Text
  • Roda C, Charreire H, Feuillet T, Mackenbach J, Compernolle S, Glonti K, Ben Rebah M, Bárdos H, Rutter H, McKee M, De Bourdeaudhij I, Brug J, Lakerveld J, Oppert J-M. (2016) Mismatch between perceived and objectively measured environmental obesogenic features in European neighbourhoods. Obesity Reviews. 17 S1:31-41. Full Text
  • Charreire H, Feuillet T, Roda C, Mackenbach JD, Compernolle S, Glonti K, Bárdos H, Le Vaillant M, Rutter H, McKee M, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Brug J, Lakerveld J, Oppert J-M. (2016) Self-defined residential neighbourhoods: size variations and correlates across five European urban regions. Obesity Reviews. S1:9-18. Full Text
  • Compernolle S, Oppert J-M, Mackenbach JD, Lakerveld J, Charreire H, Glonti K, Bárdos H, Rutter H, De Cocker K, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I. (2016) Mediating role of energy-balance related behaviors in the association of neighborhood socio-economic status and residential area density with BMI: the SPOTLIGHT study. Preventive Medicine. 86:84-91.



  • Winckers ANE, Mackenbach JD, Compernolle S, Nicolaou M, van der Ploeg HP, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Brug J. Lakerveld J. (2015) Educational differences in the validity of self-reported physical activity. BMC Public Health. 15:1299. Full Text
  • van Nassau F, Chau J, Lakerveld J, Bauman A, van der Ploeg H. (2015) Validity and responsiveness of four measures of occupational sitting and standing. IJBNPA. 12:144 Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, Ben Rebah M, Mackenbach JD, Charreire H, Compernolle S, Glonti K, Bárdos H, Rutter H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Brug J, Oppert J-M. (2015) Obesity-related behaviours and BMI in five urban regions across Europe: sampling design and results from the SPOTLIGHT cross-sectional survey. BMJ Open. 5(10):e008505. Full Text
  • Gebremariam MK, Altenburg TA, Lakerveld J, Andersen LF, Stronks K, Chinapaw MJ, Lien N. (2015) Associations between socioeconomic position and correlates of sedentary behavior among youth: a systematic review. Obesity Reviews;16(11):988-1000. article in PubMed
  • Teixeira PJ, Carraça EV, Marques MM, Rutter H, Oppert J-M, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Lakerveld J, Brug J. (2015) Successful behavior change in obesity interventions in adults: A systematic review of self-regulation mediators. BMC Medicine. 13:84. Full Text
  • Gubbels JS, Mathisen FKSM, Samdal O, Lobstein T, Kohl LFM, Leversen I, Lakerveld J, Kremers SPJ, van Assema P. (2015) The assessment of ongoing community-based interventions to prevent obesity: lessons learned. BMC Public Health. 15:216. article in PubMed Full Text
  • Boersma P, van Weert JCM, Lakerveld J, Dröes R-M. (2015) The art of successful implementation of psychosocial interventions in residential dementia care: a systematic review of the literature based on the RE-AIM framework. International Psychogeriatrics. 27(1):19-35. article in PubMed Full Text



  • Bethlehem JR, Mackenbach JD, Ben Rebah M, Compernolle S, Glonti, Bárdos H, Rutter, HR, Charreire H, Oppert J-M, Brug J,            Lakerveld J. (2014) The SPOTLIGHT Virtual Audit Tool: A valid and reliable tool to assess obesogenic characteristics of the built environment.  International Journal of Health Geographics. 16;13(1):52. PubMed  Full Text
  • Compernolle S, De Cocker K, Lakerveld J, Mackenbach JD, Nijpels G, Oppert J-M, Rutter H, Teixeira PJ, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I. (2014) A RE-AIM evaluation of evidence-based multi-level interventions to improve obesity-related behaviours in adults: a systematic review (the SPOTLIGHT project). International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical activity. 11:147. PubMed Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, van der Ploeg HP, Kroeze W, Ahrens W, Allais O, Andersen LF, Cardon G, Capranica L, Chastin S, Donnelly A, Ekelund U, Finglas P, Flechtner-Mors M, Hebestreit A, Hendriksen I, Kubiak T, Lanza M, Loyen A, MacDonncha C, Mazzocchi M, Monsivais P, Murphy M, Nöthlings U, O’Gorman DJ, Renner B, Roos G, Schuit AJ, Schulze M, Steinacker J, Stronks K, Volkert D, van ’t Veer P, Lien N, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Brug J, on behalf of the DEDIPAC consortium. (2014) Towards the integration and development of a cross European research network and infrastructure: The DEterminants of DIet and Physical ACtivity (DEDIPAC) Knowledge Hub. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical activity. 11:143. PubMed Full Text
  • Contardo Ayala AM, Nijpels G, Lakerveld J. (2014) Validity of self-measured waist circumference in adults at risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. BMC Medicine. 2;12(1):170. PubMed Full Text
  • Altenburg TM, Lakerveld J, Bot SD, Nijpels G, Chinapaw M. (2014) The prospective relationship between sedentary time and cardiometabolic health in adults at increased cardiometabolic risk: the Hoorn Prevention Study. IJBNPA. 16;11(1):90. article in PubMed Full Text
  • Mackenbach JD, Rutter H, Compernolle S, Glonti K, Oppert JM, Charreire H, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Brug J, Nijpels G, Lakerveld J, (2014) Obesogenic environments: a systematic review of the association between the physical environment and adult weight status. The SPOTLIGHT project. BMC Public Health. 14:233. article in PubMed Full Text
  • Charreire H, Mackenbach JD, Ouasti M, Lakerveld J, Compernolle S, Ben-Rebah M, Mckee M, Brug J, Rutter H, Oppert J-M. (2014) Using remote sensing to define environmental characteristics related to physical activity and dietary behaviours: A systematic review (the SPOTLIGHT project). Health and Place. 25:1-9. article in PubMed Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, Bot SD, Nijpels G. (2014) De effectiviteit van leefstijlinterventies in de eerste lijn. Huisarts en Wetenschap. 57(2):64-7. Full Text
  • Lakerveld J, Verstrate L, Bot SD, Kroon A, Baan CA, Brug J, Jansen APD, Droomers M, Abma T, Stronks K, Nijpels G. (2014). Environmental interventions in low socio-economic status neighbourhoods to promote healthy behaviour: exploration of enhancing and impeding factors. European Journal of Public Health. 24(3):390-5. article in PubMed Full Text