Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Ulster Carpets and Queen’s in health partnership 

Over the next three years, Queen’s PhD student Desiree Schliemann from the Centre for Public Health (CPH), will undertake a systematic review of the scientific literature examining the effect of workplace interventions to increase fruit and vegetable intakes.

Qualitative research will also explore the views of workers on their diets during working hours and the possibility of introducing strategies to increase fruit and veg intake through free fruit provision, changes to menu planning, food choices and food presentation within cafeterias.

Speaking at the launch of the £60,000 studentship, set up by Ulster Carpets and funded by the John Wilson Memorial Trust, Nick Coburn, Managing Director of Ulster Carpets and Chairman of the Trustees said: “The health and well being of all Ulster Carpets’ employees is very important to us so we are delighted to be involved in this research through the John Wilson Memorial Trust. I hope that this study will have a long term impact on Public Health in the local community and Northern Ireland as a whole.”

Despite the knowledge that fruit and vegetable-rich diets are good for health, intake is still below recommended levels in Northern Ireland. Diets rich in fruit and veg can reduce the risk of chronic disease, including heart disease and cancer, and help with obesity prevention and weight maintenance.

CPH Director, Professor Ian Young, said: “The support offered by the John Wilson Memorial Trust in the form of this PhD studentship, is central to the work of the Centre for Public Health, which seeks to improve public health by encouraging lifestyle change. Desiree Schliemann will focus her PhD research on interventions to promote a healthier diet in the workplace.”

The challenge facing public health specialists is to encourage more people to eat their 5-a-day and to sustain this behaviour in the long-term. The information collected as part of the PhD has the potential to impact directly on the health of people in Northern Ireland.

Visiting the Co Armagh factory for the first time, Desiree Schliemann said: “I am delighted to be the recipient of the Ulster Carpets Studentship and I am grateful to all those involved with the John Wilson Memorial Trust and the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s University Belfast, for making this important research possible.

“Working closely with staff at Ulster Carpets in Portadown, my work will explore strategies to help people increase their fruit and vegetable intake and to make smart food choices that will contribute to their overall well-being and aid the prevention of chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

“Without the funding which the John Wilson Memorial Trust is providing over the next three years, I am certain that this important research would not be possible.”

The John Wilson Memorial Trust support for the studentship is one of a number of medical fundraising initiatives which are part of the Queen’s University ‘Beyond’ campaign. The Campaign is focused on improving outcomes for patients in many of the major diseases of the 21st century through speeding up the process of taking new lab discoveries through to the patient’s bedside.

Photo: L-R: Nick Coburn (MD Ulster Carpets), Desiree Schliemann (PhD student), Professor Ian Young (Director of the Centre for Public Health at Queen’s) and Jeremy Wilson (Trustee of the John Wilson Memorial Trust).



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