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University of Portsmouth Featured PhD Programmes
Anglia Ruskin University ARU Featured PhD Programmes

The Role of Schools and Physical Education in Addressing Childhood Obesity

School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

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Prof L Cale No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Childhood obesity is a global concern and obesity prevention is now firmly on the agendas of most governments. Given the serious implications of childhood obesity for the current and future health of a significant number of young people coupled with the acceptance of physical activity as a key feature in its prevention, it is perhaps not surprising that the role of schools and physical education (PE) in promoting health and tackling obesity has been increasingly recognized. This is evidenced by various policies, strategies and responses from governments which have highlighted schools to be instrumental in addressing both health broadly, and obesity specifically.

However, concerns have been expressed that the discourse surrounding obesity and some of the policies and practices being implemented to tackle the issue in schools and PE may be overly narrow, simplistic and misguided, and that they could even be harmful to young people’s health. Despite this, very little is known about school and PE policies and practices in this regard and of how teachers, students and others experience and are influenced by these. It is clearly imperative that policies and practices to address childhood obesity avoid ‘doing more harm than good’ and that schools and PE adopt a research-informed and pedagogically sound approach to the issue.

This research will therefore investigate and aim to establish the above with a view to informing government, school and PE policy and practice in this area. It will draw primarily on qualitative research methodology and methods with a view to addressing the following research questions:

• What role and responsibilities should schools and PE have in addressing childhood obesity?
• What policies and practices are schools and PE currently implementing to address childhood obesity?
• What are teachers’ and students’ experiences and views of obesity discourse and of these policies and practices?
• What is the impact of obesity discourse and these policies and practices on teachers, students and others?
• What evidenced-based policy and practical recommendations can be made on the basis of the above to address childhood obesity in schools and PE?

Entry requirements
An undergraduate Honours degree with a minimum classification of a 2.1, or equivalent, in a relevant subject for the PhD project.

How to apply
All applications should be made online:

Under school/department name, select 'Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences'. Please quote reference SSEHS/LAC/1.

The deadline for applications is 30 May 2020.

Start date: 1 July or 1 October 2020

Start date: July 2020, October 2020

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