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Emotional eating among BAME communities: From exploration to intervention


Faculty of Education, Health and Well-being

About the Project

Emotional eating is defined as (over) eating in response to emotions including depression, irritability, stress, or anxiety (Frayn, Livshits & Knauper, 2018; Strein, 2018; VanStrien, 2013). Emotional eating is pervasive in society, being evidenced among child, adolescent and adult populations (Devonport et al., 2017). Research indicates that through emotional eating people seek to regulate emotions consuming more sugary and high fat foods. Consequently, for some, emotional eating may result in undesired consequences ranging from increased calorie intake (Devonport et al., 2017), difficulties with weight loss, weight gain and obesity (Nicholls et al., 2014), and associated non-communicable disease (Frayn & Knäuper, 2017).

This programme of research will contribute to understandings of the antecedents and regulation of emotional eating among Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) populations, specifically populations of South Asian and African heritage developing greater cultural understandings. This identified need is based in part on emerging research indicating that these populations are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (see https://arc-w.nihr.ac.uk/Wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID-19-Partner-report-BAME-communities-BCC001.pdf). One causal factor appears to be the higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes among this population, a non-communicable disease linked to diet (Agyemang et al., 2011; Pham et al., 2019). Thus, understanding emotional eating behaviour and developing interventions for use among these populations is of value. Indeed, these are core goals of behavioural science (Boateng et al., 2018).

There is the opportunity for a number of PhD students to be recruited to this project area. Successful applicants will be self-funded and will work with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to access vulnerable populations of South Asian and African heritage. The research question(s) and methodologies adopted will be negotiated with the successful applicants.
   
Specifically, the PhD aims to:
1. Explore emotional eating among UK residents of South Asian or African heritage.
2. Develop and validate measures of emotional eating that have conceptual integrity, cultural sensitivity, applied value, and are acceptable to participants.
3. Develop, deliver, and evaluate evidence-based interventions intended to manage emotional eating and contribute to greater cultural understandings.

Supervisory information

Successful applicants will be co-supervised by Professor Tracey Devonport and Dr Wendy Nicholls, with an extended project advisory team including Dr Montse Ruiz (University of Jyväskylä; Finland) and Dr Chao-Hwa (Josephine) Chen-Wilson (University of Northampton, UK).

Entry Requirements

Essential:
• A bachelor degree in psychology or a related area (UK equivalent of 2:1 classification or above with honours)
• A master’s degree in psychology or a related area
• An active interest in the research areas described above
• Good understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methods and designs
• Experience of analysing qualitative and quantitative data using software such as SPSS, Excel and NVivo
• A demonstrated ability to think independently
• Good IT skills, including data analysis skills
• Good communication and interpersonal skills, both written and oral.

Desirable:
• Experience working in a collaborative research environment
• Evidence of managing research projects
• Evidence of previous research examining the psychology of eating behaviours
• Ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team

How to apply

Please prepare to submit your CV; degree certificates and transcripts; names of 2 referees (ideally uploading 2 references at time of application also); cover letter explaining your interests and research experience (including examples of previous project work).

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