PhD Studentship: The Interaction between Exercise, Diet and Adiposity; How Can We Best Promote Cardiometabolic Health in Children and Adolescents?

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Science

The University of Exeter and the University of Queensland are seeking exceptional students to join a world-leading, cross-continental research team tackling major challenges facing the world’s population in global sustainability and wellbeing as part of the QUEX Institute. The joint PhD programme provides a fantastic opportunity for the most talented doctoral students to work closely with world-class research groups and benefit from the combined expertise and facilities offered at the two institutions, with a lead supervisor within each university. This prestigious programme provides full tuition fees, stipend, travel funds and research training support grants to the successful applicants.

Ten generous, fully-funded studentships are available for the best applicants, 5 offered by the University of Exeter and 5 by the University of Queensland. This select group will spend at least one year at each University and will graduate with a joint degree from the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland.

Find out more about the PhD studentships www.exeter.ac.uk/quex/phds

Successful applicants will have a strong academic background and track record to undertake research projects based in one of the three themes of:  Physical Activity and Nutrition; Healthy Ageing; and Environmental Sustainability.

Supervisors

Exeter Academic Lead:  Dr Bert Bond

Queensland Academic Lead:  Professor Jeff Coombes

Project Description

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) may originate in childhood, and CVD risk factor status in early life predicts overt CVD in adulthood. Accordingly, there is virtue in identifying effectual lifestyle interventions from an early age for the primary prevention of CVD; including promoting physical activity and optimising habitual diet. Currently, few children and adolescents in the UK and Australia meet the daily physical activity guidelines, and almost all teenagers exceed the recommended maximum amount of dietary sugar. Indeed, teenagers in the UK consume 8 times the recommended daily maximum of sugar from sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) alone. Such a scenario may provide ‘a perfect storm’ for future CVD related morbidity and mortality.

This PhD project seeks to build on our previous research in order to understand the interaction between exercise and SSB on cardiometabolic health in children and adolescents. A unique strength of this research team is the collective expertise in determining changes in both peripheral and cerebral blood vessel function, which are important targets in preventing unfavourable changes to the vasculature and associated with cardio- and cerebro-vascular disease. However, no data regarding the influence of exercise, or the interaction between exercise and postprandial peripheral and cerebrovascular function are currently available.

A novel feature of this project is the recruitment of both normal weight and obese youths. This is conceptually important, as 30% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and both fasted and postprandial vascular function are likely to be different in these groups. Furthermore, obese children present with poorer blood vessel function than their normal weight peers. Currently, our understanding of how adiposity may interact with the potentially protective effects of different exercise stimuli is limited. This is therefore an exciting opportunity to generate new and important knowledge regarding how best to optimise exercise in different paediatric groups for the primary prevention of CVD.

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South West England