PhD Studentship: Age-related Changes and Determinants of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Sleep in Young People

University of East Anglia - School of Health Sciences

Location: Norwich 

Start date: July 2018

No. of positions available: 1

Supervisor: Dr Andrew Atkin 

Project description:
Epidemiological evidence indicates that physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep are associated with markers of metabolic and mental health. Collectively, these ‘movement behaviours’ account for the entirety of daily time-use. The key to a healthy lifestyle, therefore, lies in achieving the right balance between them, as outlined in recent 24h movement behaviour guidelines. A substantial proportion of young people, however, have low levels of physical activity, high sedentary behaviour and inadequate sleep patterns. 

Behaviour-change interventions typically seek to promote health-enhancing (e.g. physical activity) or reduce health-damaging behaviours (e.g. TV viewing). Historically, such programmes focussed on individual behaviours, but it is increasingly recognised that interventions may need to take a more holistic approach. The development of ‘movement behaviour’ interventions, capable of facilitating health-enhancing shifts in activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep, requires high-quality evidence of how behaviour patterns evolve throughout childhood and features of the social and physical environment (determinants) that might promote or inhibit healthy behaviour patterns.   

The proposed PhD programme will explore age-related changes and determinants of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep during childhood and adolescence. In the first instance, the project will address three research questions: (1) How does children’s sedentary behaviour change during childhood and adolescence?, (2) What are the demographic, social and familial determinants of change in physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep?, (3) What is the prevalence of bedroom TV ownership during childhood and how is this associated with physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep? Subsequent projects, sufficient to fulfil the requirements of a PhD, will be devised in consultation with the successful applicant, the supervisor and the wider project team. 

Person Specification:
This project is suitable for someone with a good first degree (at least 2:1) and preferably a Masters in a related topic area, such as epidemiology, public health, physical activity/exercise science, psychology or health science.   

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding notes: 
This PhD project is jointly funded by the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Academy of Medical Sciences. This studentship is funded for 3 years and comprises home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £14,057 and £1000 per annum to support research training.

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