New Wellcome Open Letter introduces SPECTRUM

An open letter has been published in Wellcome Open Research, introducing the SPECTRUM Consortium and its research priorities

14 January 2021

The SPECTRUM Consortium has published an open letter in Wellcome Open Research.

The letter details the background to the Consortium, and sets out its aims and anticipated outputs.

The main causes of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health inequalities and health inequity include consumption of unhealthy commodities such as tobacco, alcohol and/or foods high in fat, salt and/or sugar. These exposures are preventable, but the commodities involved are highly profitable. The economic interests of ‘Unhealthy Commodity Producers’ (UCPs) often conflict with health goals but their role in determining health has received insufficient attention. In order to address this gap, a new research consortium has been established.

Tackling unhealthy commodities

SPECTRUM is a multi-disciplinary group comprising researchers from ten UK universities and overseas, and a range of partner organisations including health bodies, charities, and companies who provide data and whose staff have skills that can enhance SPECTRUM research. 

Together, the Consortium will generate new evidence to inform the prevention of non-communicable diseases caused by unhealthy commodities focusing on tobacco and alcohol and now extending work to unhealthy food and drinks.

The letter outlines activity across each of the eight integrated work packages, as well as plans for co-production and knowledge exchange.

The Consortium’s ultimate aim is to achieve meaningful health benefits for the UK population by reducing harm and inequalities from the consumption of unhealthy commodities over the next five years and beyond.