The role of economic factors and price incentives on purchase of discretionary foods

   School of Medicine, Medical Sciences & Nutrition

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  Dr P McNamee, Dr Ben McCormick, Dr C Revoredo-Giha  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Rowett Institute has an international reputation for teaching and research in human nutrition and food science. As part of its funding through the Scottish government we are advertising a number of high-profile PhD studentships in nutrition, food science, microbiology and analytical chemistry.

Applications are sought for a four year full-time Studentship to be based at the Health Economics Research Unit (HERU) and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, University of Aberdeen to commence in October 2022.

This PhD project offers an opportunity to engage in exciting policy-relevant research with leading research institutes in Scotland.

Broad population level factors are now recognised as key in driving levels of obesity (1). This is reflected in universal policies that apply to whole population groups, such as taxes and subsidies, and are now being actively promoted, developed and tested in many countries. A current policy focus in the UK is restrictions on the promotion or advertising of foods considered to be high in saturated fat and/or sugar and/or salt. Within Scotland, as part of a Diet and Healthy Weight Delivery Plan (2), new restrictions are being considered on the advertising of price promotions and other promotions of value (e.g., temporary price reductions, buy one get one free) for discretionary foods (products such as confectionery, biscuits, crisps). However, limited evidence is available of the effectiveness of such restrictions on household expenditure, and calorie and nutrient intake (3). Moreover, against the background of rising financial insecurity (e.g. through fuel price rises and other impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic), there is potential for the policy consequences (both anticipated and unanticipated) to be unevenly distributed within society.

The PhD project aims to build up the evidence base in these areas by undertaking economic analysis of existing longitudinal household data collected within Scotland (via the Kantar World Panel). The student will be able to access a range of specialist training courses and other development opportunities to support the studentship, and will also engage with relevant policy-makers throughout the course of the project.

Essential background of student:

Completion of an undergraduate degree (equivalent to 2.1 or above) in economics, agricultural/food economics, or a closely related discipline.

Students should also currently hold or expect to complete a Master’s degree in economics, health/agricultural/food economics or closely related discipline (at merit or distinction level).

Applicants without a Master’s degree and who are not currently completing a Master’s degree must provide evidence of equivalent research experience (at least one year’s research experience in a relevant environment).

Applicants must be able to demonstrate good familiarity with one or more data analysis packages (e.g. STATA, R, SAS) and relevant MS Office packages (e.g. Excel).

Informal enquiries would be welcomed for a discussion, Please contact the lead supervisor, Professor Paul McNamee ([Email Address Removed]) for more information.


This project will be based within the Rowett Institute, part of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, at the University of Aberdeen. The Rowett Institute is located on the Foresterhill Health Campus, one of the largest clinical complexes in Europe, which also includes the Institute of Applied Health Sciences, a large teaching hospital and the the Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS)



International applicants are eligible to apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £17,000 per annum)

  • Formal applications can be completed online:
  • You should apply for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Sciences to ensure your application is passed to the correct team
  • Please clearly note the name of the supervisor and exact project title on the application form. If you do not mention the project title and the supervisor on your application it will not be considered for the studentship.
  • General application enquiries can be made to [Email Address Removed]
Economics (10) Mathematics (25) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

Project funded through the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) of the Scottish Government.
Funding covers tuition fees at the UK/Home rate, bench fees, and a stipend at the UKRI rate.
This is a four-year project and the expected start date is October 2022.
Full funding is available to UK candidates only. International candidates can apply for this studentship but will have to find additional funding to cover the difference between overseas and home fees (approximately £17,000 per annum).


1. Butland B, Jebb S, Kopelman P, et al. Tackling Obesities: Future Choices Project Report. 2nd ed. London: UK Government, 2007.
2. A Healthier Future – Scotland’s Diet & Healthy Weight Delivery Plan. Available online at: Date accessed September 2020.
3. Revoredo-Giha C, Akaichi F, Norwood P, McNamee P. Economic modelling: reducing health harms of foods high in fat, sugar or salt. Scottish Government Report (Forthcoming 2022).

Where will I study?

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