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Psychology and reducing obesity in the UK


Project Description

Obesity has become a major challenge of the 21st century. In the UK, more than one in four adults have obesity and one in five children leaving primary school will have developed obesity. There is also a striking social gradient to obesity; those from the poorest areas of the country are disproportionately affected.

The aim of this PhD studentship is to apply psychological theory to the identification of approaches that can be used to reduce obesity and work closely with a public health advocacy group (Obesity Health Alliance) to inform government policies to tackle obesity in the UK. In particular, work will focus on ideas and potential policies designed to promote healthier nutrition when eating out and to address the marketing of unhealthy food to young people.

The PhD studentship will involve working with Dr Emma Boyland and Dr Eric Robinson at the University of Liverpool, experts in the psychology of marketing, the food environment, eating behaviour and obesity. See references for example research. The majority of the studentship will be based at the University of Liverpool. However, a novel aspect of this PhD studentship is the opportunity to work closely with a non-academic partner during a series of funded placement visits. The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is a coalition of over 40 organisations working together to reduce obesity by influencing Government policy. These organisations include Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and the Food Foundation. The goal of the OHA is to prevent obesity-related ill-health by supporting evidence-based population level policies to help address the wider environmental factors that lead to excess bodyweight. OHA achieve this by sharing insight and expertise among members, developing and advocating evidence-based policy recommendations, and Influencing decision makers and the media. This studentship would therefore provide the opportunity to undertake a placement with OHA, learn about this process and work with a range of NGOs and charities interested in diet and health.

This studentship is therefore suited to a candidate with a background in psychology and an interest in bringing about real-world change through public health policy. Due to the unique nature of this studentship, we welcome candidates from a range of backgrounds.

Eligibility requirements:
Psychology undergraduate degree (first or upper second class) and suitable Masters (can currently be studying for a Masters).
UK candidates are eligible if you have been resident in the UK during the last 3 years, however if not - if this was wholly or mainly due to full-time education (i.e. studying abroad) you are still eligible.

EU nationals are eligible but you must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the past three years to receive the full award.
Non-EU students who have not been ordinarily resident in the UK for the last three years are not eligible to apply.

Applications are by CV and covering letter to Dr Emma Boyland - . You should detail your interest in the studentship and outline your relevant experience, training and suitability for the position.

Funding Notes

The PhD commences in October 2020 and is fully funded for 3 years (fees and research costs covered, in addition to a £15,009 tax free stipend per year). Fully funded through ESRC DTC CASE award for psychology

References

1) https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/103/2/519/4662876
2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30833297
3) https://www.bmj.com/content/363/bmj.k4982
4) https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/107/4/640/4964655

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