Deakin-Aston Cotutelle - Eating behaviour phenotypes in childhood

This is a doctoral Cotutelle project in ‘child eating behaviours' between Deakin University (Australia) and Aston University (United Kingdom).

Deakin Project Supervisor

Deakin Faculty


Melbourne Burwood Campus (Australia) and Aston University (United Kingdom)

Research topic

This is a doctoral cotutelle project between Deakin University (Australia) and Aston University (United Kingdom).

The successful PhD Student will be awarded a scholarship from Deakin University with the supervision team being drawn from Deakin University and Aston University. The PhD Student will graduate with two testamurs, one from Deakin University and one from Aston University, each of which recognises that the program was carried out as part of a jointly supervised doctoral program. The program is for a duration of 4 years and scheduled to commence in October 2023.

The PhD Student is anticipated to spend at least 6 months of the total period of the program at Aston University, with the remainder of the program based at Deakin University.

Advancing understanding of eating behaviour phenotypes during childhood to promote healthy eating

Unhealthy diets, including excessive consumption of discretionary and ultra-processed (junk) foods and low intakes of vegetables and whole grains, are globally among the most prevalent health issues affecting children. Low quality diets are associated higher incidence of several chronic diseases, as well as children’s psychosocial health and wellbeing. Governments and health promotion organisations in Australia and globally have invested in various interventions and policies to address the issues of poor diets and excess weight in childhood, yet they are not as effective as desired. Further understanding of the factors that influence children’s diets is important for developing effective personalised interventions.

This project will explore children’s eating behaviour phenotypes (subgroups of children with unique eating behaviour patterns) as a way of understanding which children are more likely to consume unhealthy diets and gain excess weight in obesogenic food environments.  While it is known that different eating behaviour phenotypes exist in children, presently we do not fully understand the types of over- and under-eating behaviour phenotypes that exist in children, and underlying reasons explaining eating behaviour phenotypes (e.g., children’s characteristics like temperament, or their experiences with food and feeding).

This project will generate insights into the different types of eating behaviour phenotypes that exist amongst children and provide data on effective ways for characterising and understanding the phenotypes.  The student will be able to draw upon existing data sets from our ongoing child eating projects within IPAN along with an ESRC funded study on the development of eating behaviour across childhood in the UK, as well as collect new data on eating behaviour phenotypes.

The student will have the opportunity to work within two world-leading research groups. In Australia, the student will work within Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, a research institute committed to improving health and quality of life through nutrition and physical activity research excellence. While in the UK the student will be embedded within the PEACh group at Aston whose research examines biopsychological, affective, psychopharmacological, cognitive, and social influences on eating behaviour and adiposity.

This project will help us to better understand how to tailor healthy eating interventions to children’s unique eating behaviour profiles. The project will give the PhD student a unique training opportunity, enabling them to launch their research careers with world leading teams, in the UK and Australia, using a wide range of specialist methods.

Project aim

The project aims to understand eating behaviour phenotypes in childhood and their relationships to diets and weight.

The PhD student will:

  1. Conduct a literature review about the key components of eating behaviour phenotypes and their measurement in childhood.
  2. Use existing cross-sectional/longitudinal data to explore how eating behaviour phenotypes can be characterised, and how these relate to diet and weight outcomes.
  3. Whilst in the UK, use ecological momentary assessment (EMA) data to explore how eating behaviour phenotypes can be understood in daily life.
  4. Contribute to the development of novel ways of understanding children’s eating behaviour phenotypes.

Important dates

Applications close 5pm, Monday 10 July 2023


This scholarship is supported by Deakin University, is available over 3 years and includes:

  • Stipend of $30,000 per annum tax exempt (2023 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate
  • International students only:  Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.
  • Full Tuition Fee Waiver for up to 4 years
  • Funding to support travel of PhD Student between Deakin University and Aston University.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
  • meet the PhD entry requirements of both Deakin University and Aston University, including English language proficiency requirements
  • be enrolling full-time
  • be able to physically locate to both Aston University (UK) and Deakin University (Australia)

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page and Aston’s research entry criteria page page for further information.

How to apply

Applicants should firstly contact Dr Georgie Russell to discuss the project before being invited to lodge a formal HDR application to Deakin

The successful applicant will also be required to lodge a separate PhD application to Aston University via the Aston University application page

Please be aware that screening for this advert will commence immediately and the scholarship may be awarded prior to the closing date.

Contact us

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Dr Georgie Russell:

Email Dr Georgie Russell
+61 3 924 68503

Via Georgie's LinkedIn profile