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Exploring better nutrition in children; the role of school and home food environments


   School of Biological Sciences

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  Dr D McCarthy, Prof J Woodside  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Access to adequate and nutritionally balanced food is an essential component of good health that all children deserve. This project will explore how school and home environments can help improve children’s diets.

Data published by the most recent UK National Diet and Nutrition Survey highlighted that dietary habits of UK school-aged children continue to be suboptimal, with the majority of 4-10 year olds exceeding limits for saturated fats and sugars and not consuming enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish and fibre. The results also clearly demonstrate diet quality in childhood varies by household social-economic status (NDNS 2018). This project will investigate school and home food environments of vulnerable children to identify good practice and barriers to adequate nutrition. A key output of the project will be co-designed tools that support the provision of home and school food environments which encourage healthy dietary intakes in all children.

The aims of this project are: 1. To investigate the relationship between school and home environments and children’s nutrition and eating behaviours. 2. To engage with stakeholders and create relevant resources/tools which could be used to support good practice in home and school environments. 3. To evaluate the feasibility of using these resources/tools in the home and school environments. 4. To explore through multi-stakeholder participation, the impact of COVID-19 on the home food environments and access to adequate nutrition in vulnerable families. The methods used in this project will include a systematic review (Aim 1). A personal and public involvement (PPI) approach will be taken throughout this project ensuring the outputs reflect the needs and priorities of vulnerable families, including via the creation of relevant resources for school and home environments (Aim 2). A pilot intervention will be conducted to test the impact of the tools (Aim 3). A multi-method qualitative approach comprising semi-structured interviews/focus groups with target families and stakeholders will provide an understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on home food environments (Aim 4). The student undertaking this project will develop research skills in systematic literature reviewing, intervention development, qualitative methodologies and working with stakeholders/using and feasibility testing.

Start Date: 1 October 2022

Duration: 3 years

How to apply: Applications must be submitted via: https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php

Skills/experience required: Nutrition knowledge and literature review experience essential, experience of working within public, private or education sector desirable but not essential.

Note: This project is in competition for DfE funding with a number of other projects. A selection process will determine the strongest candidates across the range of projects, who may then be offered funding for their chosen project.


Funding Notes

Candidates must hold a UK 2.1 Bachelor's degree or qualifications considered to be equivalent by the University.
Candidates must also be normally resident in the UK for the three year period prior to 1 October 2022. For non-EU nationals, the main purpose of residence must not have been to receive full-time education. Non-UK or Irish nationals must also have pre-settled or settled status (EU nationals) or settled status (non-EU nationals).
Full eligibility criteria: https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/economy/Postgraduate-studentships-terms-and-conditions.pdf
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