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Promotion of bone health in school aged children through PETE (Physics, Exercise and Technological Enhancement) S&T18

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded

Overview

NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T18

Osteoporosis affects millions of people worldwide (WHO, 2013), with the condition associated with large economic costs (€37 billion in 2013) in Europe alone, a figure that is predicted to increase by 25% by 2025 (IOF 2013). The incidence of osteoporosis, estimated at 200 million people globally (Kanis, 2007) is expected to increase in line with global aging. Several social factors have been associated with osteoporosis, for example, lower socioeconomic level has been associated with higher prevalence and lower awareness (Choi et al., 2021).

A lack of weight-bearing exercise is a well-known risk factor for osteoporosis. However, reasons for engaging in preventative behaviours are complex and influenced by personal and social factors (Hsieh et al., 2008). It is estimated that ~90% of bone mass is acquired by the age of 20 years (Henry et al. 2004), for this reason, a targeted prevention strategy in children is optimal, yet physical activity guidelines for children are not specific for improving bone health. Children engaged in school-based exercise interventions for 9 months have greater bone mineral content (6-8%) compared with non-exercising counterparts (Meyer et al. 2013) with the osteogenic benefits of exercise in child and early adulthood persisting 30 years after exercise cessation (Tveit et al. 2015).

Due to the ever-increasing burden on schoolteachers, enhanced by the recent pandemic, it is unrealistic to expect long-term bone health interventions to be implemented in an already crowded school curriculum. Teaching the principles of osteogenic exercise (high force, high magnitude, deceleration, etc.) alongside fundamental physics will provide a more sustainable approach and allow physics teachers to implement KS2 curriculum relating to forces and motion in an interactive manner while also promoting bone health. Additionally, the monitoring of exercise through widely used mobile phone-based technology (e.g. accelerometers) will allow osteogenic exercise to be monitored remotely. The project will consider social factors in the uptake and success and the intervention.

Aims:

  1. Assess current knowledge and awareness in children of how exercise influences bone health in different social groups.
  2. Develop an interactive session for KS2 children to explore exercise and bone health incorporating the principles of physics that are responsible for bone adaption.
  3. Examine how a school-based interactive short-term bone health session develops knowledge in children from different social backgrounds.
  4. Design, launch and evaluate the effectiveness of a mobile-based app that uses inbuilt accelerometers to monitor and inform the user about the osteogenic nature of exercise.

School strategic research priority

The project fits within the University and School of Science and Technology’s strategic Health and Wellbeing research theme by harnessing a multi-disciplinary approach to research that is aligned with significant real-world needs.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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