Places & communities programme, Health inequalities theme
University of Cambridge
How different purchasing formats are used to purchase food prepared outside of the home, the built food environment and regulatory action adopted to change behaviour, and food related inequalities.
What has been your career journey so far?
In 2016, immediately after I completed a Master’s Degree in Public Health Nutrition at Sheffield Hallam University, I joined the MRC Epidemiology Unit as a Research Assistant. In this role, I helped collect primary data across multiple studies. In 2018, I started a new position where I helped to complete a School for Public Health Research funded project that investigated how the English Planning System had been used to restrict new takeaway food outlets from opening. For 12-months, I worked with my current supervisors and other researchers across the School for Public Health Research network to deliver three publications. In addition we developed a web-based tool that could be used by professionals in practice to support planning policy adoption. I continued to work on this project until April 2019, when I started my PhD studentship.
Why did you choose to do a PhD in public health research?
Whilst completing my Master’s Degree my research predominantly focussed on obesity and the role of the food environment in dietary behaviour. However, I became frustrated that individual behaviour change was often framed as the solution for changing population health at scale. I chose to pursue a Public Health centred PhD as I was (and still am) most interested in findings from research that are applicable and transferable to ‘the real-world’ and that can influence policy development and population health.
What is your research focused on?
My research focusses on the different ways that food prepared outside of the home is purchased and how online food ordering and delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat are used.
Why is it important?
In England, populations in the most deprived areas have the greatest exposure to food outlets selling food prepared outside of the home. Online food ordering and delivery services may increase this exposure. Additionally, online food ordering and delivery services may allow populations with low access to food outlets in their neighbourhood to order food prepared outside of the home. As a result, poor health associated with frequent consumption of food that is typically available outside of the home could be made worse for some populations, but also start to emerge in other populations where it may not typically be observed.
What do you like about being a part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research?
I like that being part of the NIHR School for Public Health Research provides access to an extensive research and peer support network that includes experts in their respective fields. I also like that the opportunity to collaborate across member institutes is encouraged, and that I have the ability to seek advice when required.
What skills have you learnt and/or are hoping to learn as part of your PhD?
During the course of my PhD studentship, I have developed skills in automated data collection and geospatial analysis. I have also had the opportunity to further develop my qualitative research skills and refine my statistical analysis practices. In the future, I would like to learn more about ‘systems approaches’ and develop Machine Learning skills.
What do you hope to do after completing your PhD?
Once I have completed my PhD studentship I would like to work as an embedded researcher in local government. My aim is to secure a role where I can work collaboratively with professionals in practice, conduct research that is contextually relevant, and have a recognisable influence on policies and practices adopted at a local level.