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Department of Anthropology

Academic Staff

Dr Tessa M. Pollard, DPhil

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology

(email at


Tessa's current research draws on approaches from medical anthropology, public health and epidemiology to investigate the place of health-related practices, particularly physical activities such as walking, in everyday lives. She also draws on an evolutionary perspective, which considers how past adaptations may have led to today's health problems. For some time she has applied these approaches to investigate risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in migrant and minority groups in the UK, and she currently has a particular interest in women's walking.

She leads a Physical Activity Lab using a variety of technologies, as well as qualitative methods, to investigate everyday practices such as walking.

Tessa supervises PhD students working on health in Orthodox Jewish children living in the UK, on lived experiences of physical activity in young people in a deprived inner-city area and on the suggested link between sedentary time during pregnancy and risk of gestational diabetes. Previous students have worked on differences in diet and physical activity between British Pakistani and White British girls, on the link between short sleep duration and obesity in childhood, on birth weight and adiposity in British Pakistani children and on experiences of the menopause in British Pakistani women.

Research Interests

  • Evolutionary perspectives on 'western' diseases
  • Lifestyle, inequalities and cardiovascular diseases / type 2 diabetes
  • The health of migrant populations in the UK, especially in relation to South Asians
  • Early life influences on health (e.g. the thrifty phenotype) in relation to populations in transition
  • Stress and health

Selected Publications

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Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

  • Physical Activity Special Interest Group

Research Projects

  • Investigating Physical Activity and Diet in British Pakistani Women and Girls.
  • Understanding the impact of early environment on ovarian function and cardiovascular risk factors