Current research

Working together for healthy children in Amsterdam. We do this together with Amsterdam universities and hospitals within the Sarphati Amsterdam research institute.

Diseases of affluence form a growing threat for Amsterdam youth. The scientific knowledge currently available is insufficient to reverse this threat. Sarphati Amsterdam is focusing on research into health disparities in relation to the social and physical environment. The research studies should help translate this knowledge into interventions that focus on reducing health disparities in Amsterdam.

The Sarphati Amsterdam research results aim to offer unique insights into promoting healthy growth and development among Amsterdam youth.  For instance, the research can explore why some children have an increased risk of becoming overweight or obese, the consequences of this and possible interventions.

More information on the focus of Sarphati Amsterdam research can be found in our Research Programme.

Various projects and research studies are being conducted under the Sarphati Amsterdam flag. A brief description per study is given below. Do you have ideas for a good addition to this portfolio? If so, please contact us and share your ideas for a new study or intervention. We’d be delighted to discuss these with you!

Amsterdam Infant Microbiome Study (AIMS)

o Organisation: Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD)
o Project term: 15-1-2019 to 1-6-2022
The human microbiome develops in the first three years of life and is influenced by a range of environmental factors such as a baby’s delivery method, type of feed and intake of antibiotics. Disturbances in the microbiome can influence the occurrence of excess weight/obesity and tooth decay. However, there is currently insufficient early childhood research regarding the relationship between excess weight/obesity and tooth decay and the development of the microbiome. With AIMS we aim to establish data collection to conduct exploratory research into the development of the microbiome in relation to healthy growth and development. Our particular focus is on growth development and oral health. We are also examining the role of nutrition and other lifestyle factors in the 0-3 age range among various ethnic groups in Amsterdam.
You can find more information on the AIMS website:

Sarphati Diaries: Nutrition in the transition from milk feed to solids

o Organisation: GGD Amsterdam & VU Amsterdam
o Project term: 1-6-2018 to 31-12-2020

The Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD) and VU Amsterdam have together started the Sarphati Diaries research among 200 Amsterdam families. The objective of this research is to study food intake among babies during the transition from milk feed to solids. This is an important period for the development of healthy eating patterns.
This research aims to improve our knowledge of what Amsterdam babies eat and drink in this period and at which times. The research is being conducted among families of Dutch, Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese origin so that we can also study any cultural differences. The research results may also contribute to improving the quality of medical advice and in so doing advance the health of current and future generations of children in Amsterdam.

What will we be doing exactly?
200 families will help us investigate the food intake process among babies in the transition period from milk feed to solids. That is why we are asking participants to complete a 3-day diary when their child is aged 6 and 12 months. Participants use this diary to note down what their child eats and drinks. They also take various photos of their child’s meals. Once the nutrition diary has been completed, the researcher makes an appointment with participants to discuss the nutrition diary and ask various questions about this. At 6 months, the participants also complete a short questionnaire about their background and their child’s diet over the past few months.

Antibiotics, probiotics, the microbiome and chronic illnesses in children

o Organisation: GGD Amsterdam & Winclove Probiotics
o Project term: 1-1-2018 to 1-6-2019

Research has demonstrated that early exposure to antibiotics (during pregnancy and in the first two years after birth) may contribute to the development of various common chronic illnesses among children, including excess weight and allergies. This could possibly be a result of a disturbance in the composition of bacteria that live in the gut. It is important to collect and evaluate all evidence relating to the consequences of antibiotic use in order to gain better insight into the level at which antibiotics have an actual effect on the development of chronic illnesses. Administration of probiotics is considered as a potential intervention to redress the disturbed balance of bacteria in the gut. A literature review was carried out but this did not provide sufficient evidence for the role of early antibiotic exposure in the development of chronic illnesses. For this reason a decision was taken not to carry out a follow-up study.

Lekker gezond

o Organisation: GGD Amsterdam & Amsterdam UMC
o Project term: 1-7-2016 to 31-12-2020

Jump-in supports primary schools in deprived areas in Amsterdam to stimulate healthy exercise and eating patterns among their pupils. Diet policy at Amsterdam primary schools is evaluated within the ‘Delicious and healthy’ project. Research is carried out both in schools and homes to ascertain the effect of Jump-in on the consumption of water, sugary drinks, milk, fruit, vegetables, snacks and wholemeal bread. The researchers also map out which conditions need to be met for the successful introduction of a healthy food policy in schools.

My Daily Moves

o Organisation: GGD Amsterdam & Amsterdam UMC
o Project term: 1-11-2015 to 1-6-2019

MyDailyMoves (the exercise monitor) is a measurement instrument to measure physical activity, seated activities and sleep among 9-12-year-old children. MyDailyMoves was developed together with the children themselves, using various qualitative methods (eg. Photovoice). As children are experts in their own behaviour we involved them in the development of the measurement instrument to ensure that the instrument met the children’s wishes as far as possible.

Healthy Sleep Project

o Organisation: GGD Amsterdam & VU Amsterdam & Amsterdam UMC
o Project term: 1-6-2016 to 31-5-2020

Healthy sleep (i.e. sufficient number of hours, a fixed sleeping pattern and good sleep quality) is crucial in combatting the development of excess weight and in having a positive impact on children’s development, health and school performance. There is a lack of knowledge about which factors influence sleep among children, the prevalence of sleep problems among children in Amsterdam, and how to stimulate a healthy sleep pattern among children in Amsterdam via preventive intervention. This 4-year study aims to research the development of a preventive intervention to stimulate healthy sleep among children in Amsterdam.


o Organisation: VU Amsterdam & Fred Foundation
o Project term: 1-1-2018 to 30-6-2020

The first 1,000 days in a child’s life, starting from the moment of conception to 2 years, have a huge influence on a child’s development. It is a crucial period in which the foundation is laid for health, growth and development throughout a child’s entire life. A healthy lifestyle (diet, exercise, sleep and relaxation) is therefore of additional importance in this period. There are very many different cultural interpretations about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle and a person’s own upbringing, cultural customs/rituals and the behaviour and opinions of a family’s wider social environment play a role. With Food4Smiles we aim to gain more insight into the daily lives of parents and more understanding of their behaviours, needs and wishes.
The PAR approach (Participative Action Research) is central at Food4Smiles, as this method values parents’ perspectives and things are developed with them instead only for them. Working together with various persons (parents, family members, professionals from the area and researchers) activities are established and implemented that focus on the healthy growth and development of young children up to 2 years.

(Op)voeden in Amsterdam; eten, bewegen en slapen in huishoudens met jonge kinderen

o Organisation: University of Amsterdam
o Project term: 1-10-2017 to 1-10-2022

The University of Amsterdam and the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD) are examining how Amsterdam’s young children and their parents approach food, exercise and sleeping patterns during the child’s first year of life.
The goal is to understand more about the themes that are important in caring for a child. We are particularly curious about the experience of parents during the first years of a child’s life, during which they face many challenges. Which bottlenecks and good things do they experience in caring for their child, how does the child’s eating, sleeping and exercise develop in daily practice, how do family members handle this and who or what do parents find important in this?

Sleep and growth in the first 1,000 days

o Organisation: Amsterdam UMC
o Project term: 1-9-2017 to 31-12-2021

I’m a paediatrician at the Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD) and researcher at AMC. As researcher I’m conducting a PhD project in which I examine sleep and growth in the first 1,000 days of life. These are the 1,000 days between conception (fertilisation of an ovum) and the child’s second birthday. First of all, I’m examining what is known in literature about a connection between infants’ sleep and their later growth (project 1). I’m examining how the growth of infants changes over time in the Sarphati Cohort (project 2) and examining whether this is connected to their growth (project 3). In the ABCD cohort, I’m examining whether excessive crying at 3 months has a connection with later sleep and growth (project 4). And finally, I’d like to examine whether influencing babies’ sleep could also have a positive effect (project 5).

Other research projects

– Healthy school lunch
– A healthy supermarket in neighbourhoods with a low socioeconomic status
– Care for Obesity
– Growing up healthily together
– Active kids
– ABCD-ELSO: Early life stress and obesity
– Follow You: research and treatment of children with a connective tissue disorder