Healthy lifestyle score and CVD health

Does a healthy lifestyle score starting in childhood predict cardiometabolic health in midlife?

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

18 July 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Cardiometabolic disease (including cardiovascular disease (CVD) and type 2 diabetes) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality globally and in Australia, with premature deaths largely preventable. Much of the prevention effort is focused on lifestyle modification and management of clinical risk factors in older adults but risk factors are common at young ages. Their prevalence estimates in young adults aged 18 to 44 from the 2017-18 Australian Health Survey confirm this: overweight and obesity (58.7%), physical inactivity (80.6%), less than recommended intake of fruit and vegetables (96%) and smoking (16.9%). Investigation of lifestyle risk factors can be complex because they often coexist (i.e. people with overweight or obesity are more likely to be physically inactive), thus a healthy lifestyle score has been used to summarise lifestyle risk factors as a whole. Few longitudinal studies have examined the longitudinal associations of healthy lifestyle scores from childhood to adulthood with cardiometabolic health outcomes in adulthood.

The Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) study commenced across Australia in 1985 with a representative sample of 8,498 children aged 7-15 years from 109 schools. Using data from repeated measures of lifestyle, physical characteristics and mental health collected since childhood, the study's long-term aim is to determine the contribution of childhood factors to the risk of developing CVD.

Using CDAH data, this project aims to address the research gap by expanding the healthy lifestyle score measurements to multiple life periods (from four-time points including childhood), identifying its sociodemographic determinants in childhood, and examining its association and the contribution of different parts of the healthy lifestyle score with cardiometabolic health outcomes in midlife, including diabetes and prediabetes, metabolic syndrome, and blood vessel (i.e. plaque and elasticity) and heart (i.e. left ventricular hypertrophy and global longitudinal strain) related CVD outcomes in midlife. Findings from this project will inform targeted prevention strategies across the life course to reduce the incidence of cardiometabolic disease.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Jing Tian

Funding

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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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.

Eligibility

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

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

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Jing Tian to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • 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.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application 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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