PhD opportunities at Leeds Beckett University

Centre for Applied Obesity at Leeds Beckett University has five PhD opportunities currently open. Closing date: 20 June 2021

Full details:

Project: Improving outcomes for childhood obesity: Utilising big data and whole system methods to examine the interplay and complexity of multilevel influences to inform intervention design

Project reference: AO1
Overview: In the UK 63% of adults and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese; the physical, psychological and economic consequences of obesity have been well documented.  Obesity has a strong socio-economic profile and disproportionally affects the lives of poorer groups in society, contributing to growing health inequalities. There is an urgent need for innovative approaches to identify and implement evidence-based policy and practice. This project aims to:

  • Understand how the inter-relationships between and temporal patterning of, individual, social and environmental factors contribute to obesity in children.
  • Determine ‘critical periods’ of age at which individual, social and environmental factors have the most substantial causal impact on obesity in children?
  • Utilise whole system methods to gain insights into the complexity of obesity related behaviours in children

Contact: Dr Claire Griffiths

Project: The role of people and place characteristics in weight management programme attendance and effectiveness

Project reference: AO2
Overview: The most comprehensive investigation into obesity and its causes described obesity as a complex problem that requires action from individuals and society across multiple sectors. Policy makers have engaged with the idea that individual, social and environmental factors contribute to obesity. However, almost all the research evaluating weight management interventions fails to consider this interplay and focuses on individual factors only.  This project aims to:

  • Investigate if the economic and social environment in which an individual lives is associated with attendance at and effectiveness (in terms of weight loss) of, a community weight management intervention
  • Identify if engagement with weight management interventions is socially patterned and if it either reduces or increases existing social inequalities.

Contact: Dr Claire Griffiths

Project: An examination of children’s weight status and physical activity levels during school and holiday periods

Project reference: AO3
Overview: In the UK 1 in 3 children are living with overweight or obesity and the majority do not meet government recommended levels for physical activity. School’s diet and exercise policies are often cited as contributing factors and schools are frequently looked to as a setting for intervention. However, preliminary research from the US suggests that school environments contribute less to overweight than do nonschool environments. This PhD will build on the limited evidence base by examining how individual, social and environmental factors contribute to changes in children’s weight status and physical activity levels during school and holiday periods.

Contact: Dr Duncan Radley

Project: Development of an evaluation framework to assess the impact of whole systems approaches to obesity

Project reference: AO4
Overview: A whole systems approach has surfaced as a realistic and promising approach to address obesity. In 2019, based on our work, Public Health England published a practical guide ‘Whole systems approach to obesity: A guide to support local approaches to promoting a healthy weight’. However, evaluation of such an approach is challenging, with actions being embedded in complex social and environmental systems. This PhD will develop an evaluation framework, that can be used by local authorities and other organisations to effectively understand and measure the impact of a local whole systems approach to obesity.

Contact: Dr Duncan Radley

Project: Implementation Fidelity of Digital Adult Weight Management Programmes: A Process Evaluation.  In collaboration with MoreLife

Project reference: AO5
Overview: MoreLife adult WM (AWM) programmes focus on reducing health inequalities among the general population, as well as vulnerable and under-served groups within areas of deprivation.

The aim of this research is to evaluate the impact of MoreLife’s digital AWM programmes, with the following objectives posed as evaluation questions: 

  1. Explore how digital platform acceptability and user experience affects initial uptake and retention; (ii) Explore the difference in effectiveness between Tier 2 and 3 programmes; (iii) Explore perceived barriers, facilitators and opportunities for participation, sustained participation, as well as initial non-participation amongst the 40% most deprived lower super out areas (LSOAs); (iv) Explore the ways in which service users can be better supported to engage with digital AWM sessions. 
  2. Explore how the transition from face-to-face to exclusively digital AWM sessions affects practitioner adherence to curriculum items, competence and ability to deliver the programmes as intended; (ii) Explore how practitioners are supported to deliver digital sessions?

Contact: Dr Claire Griffiths

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