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.


I am a health researcher currently pursing my PhD at Simon Fraser University. I am an anthropologist by training and use cross-cultural research methods to understand nutrition, weight management, and chronic disease management from an evolutionary perspective. I am interested in what human evolution can teach us about the lifestyle habits that can help individuals manage their physical and mental health. My most recent publication has implications for the Paleo Diet as well as other popular diets.


Over the course of my MA 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.

My PhD research project is in the final stages of preparation. I will be assessing the performance and physical comfort of several anthropometric measures of body fat in females of different ethnicities. The goal of this project is to understand how well the body mass index and other common anthropometric measures of body fatness (such as waist-to-hip-ratio) perform as measures of female body fat in a mixed ethnic population. This research has implications for population-level and clinical obesity research and public policy.

Other Activities

In addition to my health research, I am a certified Classical Pilates teacher and teach Pilates a few hours a week.

When I’m not researching or teaching, I can be found training, hiking, baking, or reading a novel. I can almost always be found with a cup of tea.


Ruffett, A., & Collard, M. (2023). An assessment of the impact of cross-cultural variation in plant macronutrients on the recommendations of the Paleo Diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 117(4), 777-784.

Collard, M., & Ruffett, A. (2023). It’s time to leave the Paleo Diet in the past: Recent studies have failed to support its claims. The Conversation.