Adiposity, mental health and CVD health

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Overweight and obesity are a public health crisis in the world. Over half (52%) of the world’s adults and nearly one-fifth (18%) of the world’s children and adolescents were classified as overweight or obese in 2016. Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for ill health from highly prevalent chronic diseases, including cardiometabolic disease– the leading cause of morbidity and mortality around the world in 2016.

Body mass index (BMI) has been used as a proxy measure of general obesity for many years. However, it is unable to distinguish fat from muscle or indicate the distribution of body fat. Many studies have demonstrated that individuals with abdominal obesity have a higher cardiometabolic risk, independent of their BMI. Several measures of abdominal obesity, such as waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio, but they have limitations. For example, although waist circumference is strongly correlated with abdominal fat measured using advanced imaging techniques (e.g. computed tomography) it has been shown to both over- and under-estimate cardiometabolic risk for tall and short people with similar waist circumference. Similarly, the waist-to-hip ratio has been shown to stay the same when both waist and hip circumferences decrease with weight reduction, making it an imperfect tool, particularly in longitudinal studies. The waist-to-height ratio is calculated by correcting the waist circumference for height and has been suggested as a better screening tool for predicting cardiometabolic risk in children and adults across different countries and races.

Using data from a prospective national cohort, this project aims to:

  1. Identify the adiposity trajectories from childhood to adulthood that predict cardiometabolic disease in midlife and the factors (i.e. mental health, social support) that modify the risk;
  2. Evaluate the predictive utility of abdominal obesity relative to BMI in predicting midlife cardiometabolic disease from a life course perspective.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jing Tian


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience conducting literature reviews
  • Experience in epidemiological, clinical, or related research
  • Experience in conducting statistical analyses using a statistical package such as Stata, SPSS, or R
  • Previous scientific publications in a related field

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact Dr Jing Tian to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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