Petya Atanasova

Thesis Title:

Associations between Food Environments and Noncommunicable Diseases in South Asia


The greatest strain on public health is the continued increase in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) which account for 73% of all deaths globally. Although NCDs are a global public health concern, 77% of all NCDs deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). A key risk factor of NCDs relates to food related behaviours. 83.6% of NCDs mortality is caused by exposure to factors in our environment that are amenable to policy interventions. Effective interventions require a comprehensive and holistic understanding of the interplay of these factors in driving food related behaviours. Few attempts have been made to systematically link and triangulate different sources of socio-economic, behavioural, biological and exposure to the built environment data to do analyses that can inform change that will affect public health.

Our proposed approach is to leverage a unique dataset with linked data on individual’s health outcomes and characteristics, and environmental mapping capturing the multilevel determinants of behaviours to develop a better understanding of environmental associations with NCDs related outcomes in South Asia. First, we conduct systematic literature review on the impact of the food environment on NCDs related outcomes. Then, we validate findings from the review in the context of South Asia. Further, we investigate the contribution of the food environment in the inequalities observed between urbanized and less urbanized areas and we investigate the potential association between exposure to outdoor food advertising and NCDs related outcomes in South Asia.

First Supervisor:

Professor Gary Frost


Pathway 1: Health Practices, Innovation & Implementation