Ross Whitehead

Ross Whitehead has done his PhD with Prof David Perrett and I. Here’s Ross in his words:

“I have a background in Psychology and recently completed a PhD in which I investigated the impact of diet, health and lifestyle on outward appearance. My work in the Perception Lab found that dietary intake of fruit and vegetables impacts human skin colour in a manner that is perceived as healthy and attractive. These effects were found to be relatively rapid – perceptible changes occur within six weeks following modest improvement in diet.

Building on these empirical results I developed and tested a novel appearance-based dietary intervention. Randomised controlled trials indicated that visualising the impact of healthy eating upon images of one’s own face represents an effective and economical means of encouraging dietary improvement.

Following my PhD, I have been appointed as Research Fellow in the Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit in the School of Medicine, St Andrews. I implemented the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey in Scotland. My interdisciplinary experience informed research on the development of age, gender, socioeconomic and ethnic differences in health behaviour and identify means of improving health from childhood and adolescence.

Since December 2016 I have been working as a Public Health Intelligence Adviser in the Evidence for Action team at NHS Health Scotland. In this role I’ve worked on a wide range of topics, with a focus on tobacco control and adolescent health. I really enjoy the immediacy of the work – the evidence summaries and guidance we produce often feed directly into local, national and international policy. The challenging part of the job is distilling very large literatures into short and accessible, but insightful summaries that represent the extent of knowledge that exists on a topic.