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Meeting nutrient requirements is often taken as a marker of healthiness. However, there is no one-to-one relationship between diets that meet nutrient requirements and diets that minimise dietary risk factors associated with premature mortality. The relationship becomes even more problematic at the level of food groups where a food group such as red meat has been associated with increased risk for diet-related diseases despite its high nutrient density.

This DPhil project will focus on clarifying the differentiation between nutritional adequacy and healthiness by critically evaluating the basis and use of nutrient recommendations, with a particular focus on their applications in interdisciplinary research on sustainable diets and food systems. The work will include:

  1. A review and critical evaluation of the scientific basis of nutrient recommendations, including dietary reference values;
  2. A review of, and comparison to, dietary risk factors and their scientific basis;
  3. The development of an integrated assessment of nutrient adequacy and dietary risk;
  4. A review of the sustainable diet literature with respect to the method used for assessing healthiness;
  5. The application of the assessment framework to the identified literature;
  6. The development of a guiding document for good practice in health assessments accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. 


The successful candidate will gain experience in nutritional epidemiology, public health modelling, and sustainability science. The candidate will learn how to assess study designs, estimate nutrient adequacy, undertake dose-response analyses in cohort studies, and conduct burden-of-disease analyses using comparative risk assessments.


Most of the work will be desk-based, but the project allows for placements at relevant institutions, such as the WHO and the Global Burden of Disease. Training in in conducting nutritional and dietary health analyses will be provided. Additional training, e.g. in epidemiology, statistics and other relevant topics, will be available through departmental courses.

prospective candidate

Suitable candidates for this project could have a variety of academic backgrounds, but will have an interest in improving public health and environmental sustainability. They will have some knowledge of nutrition science and public health, and experience in quantitative data analysis. Coding experience in relevant programming languages is desirable.