We believe in creating opportunities for research training as an investment in the future of the research community and in our capacity to positively impact on health outcomes for patients and the public. Our studentships are linked to our research themes and priority areas and students receive expert supervision and guidance from our academic colleagues.
Here we meet Dr Viktorija Kesaite whose PhD investigated the causal effects of weight status measures on education and earnings outcomes. She has just submitted her thesis and is shortly taking up a position as Research Associate for the Lancet Public Health Commission on Gambling.
Can you tell us about your PhD project?
The principal aim of the project was to investigate the effect of overweight on individual’s education and earnings outcomes and the different pathways through which overweight may affect earnings. I began by synthesising the available evidence on the relationship between overweight and education, occupation, and earnings in high income countries using a systematic and narrative literature reviews. Then, drawing on the findings from the literature reviews, I carried out empirical analyses to examine the long-term effects of childhood and adolescent overweight on educational outcomes using two UK representative datasets. Finally, I estimated the pathways through which overweight may affect earnings using a potential outcomes framework; this allowed me to provide a better understanding of how overweight and earnings are related, focusing on pre-employment (education) and employment (occupation) mediators.
What led you to undertake it?
I had the chance to do some research both on my Masters course and in my workplace. I really enjoyed research and the area of economics of obesity seemed interesting and relevant.
How has life been affected by the pandemic? Tell us how it’s affected you and your research.
I’ve been working from home over the last year. I was able to focus much better on my thesis than when I was working in the office, and I managed to finish my write-up as well as spend more time with my family and friends.
What sort of impact do you anticipate, or would you like to see, your research have?
The analysis is timely in the context of continuing global increase in overweight. Current prevalence of overweight is high among children and adults and given that this is closely entwined with health and, as indicated by recent research, also affects various other dimensions of life, implementing policies that address health inequalities could help to reduce the negative effects.
Would you recommend a research career? What piece of advice would you give to yourself if you were starting again or to anyone else considering a career in research?
Definitely, especially if someone is interested in developing their knowledge in a certain area and in improving their skills in writing, and communication. In terms of advice, I think it’s important to write daily, for instance, setting yourself a minimum daily word limit