Eating patterns in children and adolescents

Eating patterns refers to the ways in which foods are consumed together in discrete eating occasions (e.g. meals and snacks), and includes measures of eating occasion patterning (frequency, size, timing/time of day, spacing of eating occasions, meal skipping), eating occasion format (food types, food combinations) and eating occasion context (includes the eating location, presence of others, activities occurring while eating). This project will involve secondary analysis of nutrition datasets which may include the Australian Health Survey, the IPAN INFANT study and the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children.

The specific research questions and research issues of interest for this project may include:

  • Examining the eating patterns in relation to food and nutrient intakes and diet quality in children and adolescents
  • Consumption of unhealthy and healthy foods at meals and snacks and compliance with dietary guidelines
  • Energy density of meals and snacks in children and adolescents
  • Temporal patterns of energy density and adiposity across children and adolescents
  • Eating patterns in relation to health outcomes such as BMI.

This project will inform nutrition promotion initiatives for children and adolescents, by better understanding existing eating patterns to identify opportunities for greatest improvement.


Applications are invited for PhD students to work with Professor Sarah McNaughton, Dr Rebecca Leech, Dr Alison Spence and Dr Katie Lacy from the Food, Nutrition and Health Domain at the Institute for Physical Activity Nutrition, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.


Applicants will have previous studies in a relevant discipline, such as nutrition, dietetics, epidemiology and public health. Interested students must be eligible for enrolment in a PhD program at Deakin University and eligible to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent. Applicants must meet Deakin’s PhD entry requirements. Please refer to the entry pathways to higher degrees by research for further information. We will work with suitably qualified applicants to apply for scholarship funding.

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