Amalea Ruffett

PhD Student, Mark Collard

Areas of interest

Human evolution; nutrition; cross-cultural analysis; eating behaviour; obesity; chronic conditions; evolutionary medicine; applied evolutionary anthropology.

Research Interests

I am interested in evolutionary medicine and what might be called ‘applied evolutionary anthropology’. Currently, I am interested in using evolutionary and anthropological approaches to shed light on the variation in diet, eating behaviour, and body fatness among human societies. Through this research I hope to contribute to public policy concerning population health, with particular emphasis on reducing rates of obesity and the negative health outcomes it causes.

Master’s Research

For my MA thesis project I assessed some of the key recommendations of the popular but controversial Paleo Diet. Specifically, my study investigated cross-cultural variation in the plant component of hunter-gatherer diets to assess the validity of the Paleo Diet’s macronutrient recommendations. I found that the Paleo Diet’s macronutrient recommendations are dependent on the plant component of hunter-gatherer diets. This suggests that the Paleo Diet’s recommendations do not accurately reflect the macronutrient component of hunter-gatherer diets and should not be used as such.

PhD Research

For my PhD research, which I have just started planning, I am intending to investigate cross-cultural and historical variation in body weight/BMI/body fatness and how it relates to variation in ecological conditions and eating behaviour.