Salford PhD candidate explores food habits amongst Saudi youths as part of public health research

Categories: School of Health and Society

A PhD candidate in the University of Salford’s School of Health and Society is conducting research in Saudi Arabia regarding young people’s nutritional attitudes and knowledge of dietary guidelines, with hopes to improve global public health.

After initially moving to Saudi Arabia to teach at the university in Al Khobar in the Eastern Province, Alexander Woodman noticed the Saudi youth shifting from traditional lifestyles to a more Western one, including adopting unhealthy diets, resulting in overweight and obesity.

During this time, he became particularly interested in the health of the youth of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which inspired him to undertake his PhD at the University, focused on Saudi youth.

He said: “I chose to study at the University of Salford for my doctoral studies because of its academic excellence and expertise, particularly in relation to global public health.”

Whilst in the Eastern Province, Alexander became acquainted with the spiritual texture and daily life of Saudis, and in particular the youth. He witnessed how the descendants of noble semi-nomadic tribes strive to become an integrated part of the global community.

He added: "I can unequivocally say that my students inspired me to start this research, so I’m trying to improve their lifestyle as the future generation of Saudi Arabia.

“I felt deeply connected with my new environment. The more I penetrated the depth of daily life of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the more research ideas developed in me, that eventually resulted in my research.”

He hopes that his PhD findings will lead to the development of interventions to support young people in making healthier food choices, which could subsequently reduce their chances of becoming overweight, obese, and developing associated long-term health complications.

“My background includes research in inequalities in global health, reproductive health, health policy development and medical ethics,” he added. “I am interested, particularly, in prevalence, trends, and factors of communicable and non-communicable disease among Arab and Jewish adolescents in the Middle East.”

Alexander’s educational history includes graduating from the University of California Los Angeles, UCLA with college, departmental and Magna Cum Laude honors, where he was ranked one of the top performers (top 3%) in his graduating class.

Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he received a scholarship to pursue his graduate studies in ‘Health Across the Life Span, Gerontology and Global Health’ at the University of Southern California, USC under the supervision of Dr Aaron Hagedorn.

He is also a recipient of a scholarship from the US Department of Homeland Security, Wasserman Fellow, National Institute of Health and Center of Disease Control and Prevention.

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