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Department of Archaeology



I conduct research on the evolution of human growth and development in the context of nutrition transitions and its relation with long-term health. This research has focussed on Human Population Biology and Health and on Evolution, Ecology, and Behaviour, in contemporary modern human. I am currently engaged in field projects in South Africa focussing on child growth and body composition from conception to two years of age and its biological and environmental determinants.


Human Biology

Human Evolution and Adaptation

Life history theory

Human Growth and development

Nutrition, energy expenditure, body composition and metabolism

Interactions between Human Biology and Social and Cultural Environment


Public Health Nutrition

Life Course Epidemiology

Developmental origins of health and disease


I am presently involved in the following research projects in South Africa:


2017 – present: Interactions between nutrition, infection, and home environment and their impacts on growth and development in infants between birth and one year of age, the Soweto Baby WASH project

2017 – present: Infant Nutrition and Later Childhood Body Composition in Soweto South Africa

2019 – present: A software platform to improve safety and utilization of sanitation and water source facilities among women in South African informal settlements

2019 – present: Cancer Treatment, Body Composition, and Clinical Outcomes in Paediatric Patients in South Africa


Key publications: 
  • Said-Mohamed R, Stein A, Pettifor JM, Norris SA. Infection burden index in infancy and CRP level at age 18 years: the Birth to Twenty Plus cohort. Ann Hum Biol. 2019;46(5):415-424.
  • Ngandu CB, Momberg D, Ansuyah M, Chola L, Norris SA, Said-Mohamed R. Associations between household socio-economic status, maternal socio-demographic characteristics and adverse birth and infant growth outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2019;1-18
  • Munthali R, Manyema M, Said-Mohamed R, Kagura J, Tollman S, Kahn K, Gómez-Olivé FX, Micklesfield LK, Dunger D, Norris SA. Body composition and physical activity as mediators in the relationship between socio-economic status and blood pressure in young South African women: A structural equation model analysis. BMC Public Health. 2018;8(12):e023404
  • Said-Mohamed R, Prioreschi A, Nyatia LH, Van Heerden V, Munthali RJ, Kahn K, Tollman SM, Gómez-Olivé FX, Houle B, Dunger DB, Norris SA. Rural-urban variations in age at menarche, adult height, leg-length and abdominal adiposity in women in transitioning South Africa. Ann Hum Biol. 2018;45(2):123-132
  • Said-Mohamed R, Pettifor JM, Norris SA. Life history theory hypotheses on child growth: potential implications for short and long term child growth, development and health. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2018;165(1):4-19
  • Micklesfield LK, Munthali RJ, Prioreschi A, Said-Mohamed R, van Heerden A, Tollman S, Kahn K, Dunger D, Norris SA. Understanding the Relationship between Socio-Economic Status, Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour, and Adiposity in Young Adult South African Women Using Structural Equation Modelling. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(10):pii: E1271
  • Prioreschi A, Wrottesley SV, Cohen E, Reddy A, Said-Mohamed R, Twine R, Tollman SM, Kahn K, Dunger DB, Norris SA. Examining the relationships between body image, eating attitudes, BMI, and physical activity in rural and urban South African young adult females using structural equation modelling. PLoS One. 2017;12(11):e0187508
  • Cohen E, Amougou N, Bernard JY, Ponty A, Loinger J, Nkuintchua N, Monteillet N, Said-Mohamed R, Holdsworth M, Pasquet P. Nutrition   transition   and   biocultural   determinants   of   obesity   among Cameroonian migrants in urban Cameroon and France. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(7):pii: E696
  • Prioreschi A, Wrottesley S, Draper C, Tomaz S, Cook C, Watson E, Van Poppel M, Said-Mohamed R, Norris S, Lambert V, Micklesfield  L. Maternal and early life nutrition and physical activity: setting the research and intervention agenda for addressing the double burden of malnutrition in South African children. Global Health Action. 2017;10(1):1301085
  • Norris SA, Daar A, Balasubramanian D, Byass P, Kimani-Murage E, Macnab A, Pauw C, Singhal A, Yajnik C, Akazali J, Levitt N, Maatoug J, Mkhwanazi N, Moore SE, Nyirenda M, Pulliam JRC, Rochat T, Said-Mohamed R, Seedat S, Sobngwi E, Tomlinson M, Toska E, van Schalkwyk C. Understanding and acting on the developmental origins of health and disease in Africa would improve health across generations. Global Health Action. 2017;10(1):1334985
  • Howard S, Cook CJ, Said-Mohamed R, Norris SA, Draper CE. The (Possibly Negative) Effects of Physical Activity on Executive Functions: Implications of the Changing Metabolic Costs of Brain Development. J Phys Act Health. 2016;13(9):1017-22
  • Amougou N, Cohen E, Mbala ML, Grosdidier B, Bernard JY, Said-Mohamed R, Pasquet P. Development and validation of two food portion photograph books to assess dietary intake among adults and children in Central Africa. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(5):895-902
Other publications: 
  • Boateng D, Danquah I, Said-Mohamed R, Smeeth L, Nicolaou M, Meeks K, Beune E, Addo J, Bahendeka S, Agyei-Baffour P, Mockenhaupt FP, Spranger J, Schulze MB, Grobbee DE, Agyemang C, and Klipstein-Grobusch K. Early-life exposures and cardiovascular disease risk among Ghanaian migrant and home populations: the RODAM study. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2019;1-4.
  • Manyema M, Norris SA, Said-Mohamed R, Tollman ST, Twine R, Kahn K, Richter LM. The associations between interpersonal violence and psychological distress among rural and urban young women in South Africa. Health & Place. 2018;51:97-106

Teaching and Supervisions


I am involved in the teaching of the following courses:

  • Paper B4 Comparative Human Biology
  • Paper A4 Being human: interdisciplinary perspectives
Research supervision: 

I currently supervise students investigating in a range of topics related to environmental factors associated to child growth and development. I am interested in supervising students who wish to study for an MPhil or a PhD in the following topics:


Life history hypotheses of human growth and development

Parental investment, social support and growth and development

Social and cultural determinants of health

Intergenerational effects

Developmental Origins of Health and Disease

Nutrition and nutrition transition

Other Professional Activities

  • Member of Education sub-committee of the Society for Developmental Health and Disease (DOHaD)
  • Representative of the emerging scientists of the African Chapter of the DOHaD
  • Peer-reviewer for BMC Public Health, American Journal of Human Biology, British Journal of Nutrition, South African Journal of Child Health, Public Health Nutrition, Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 

Job Titles

Lecturer in Comparative Human Biology
Image of Dr Rihlat Said Mohamed

General Info

Takes PhD students
Available for consultancy
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Human Population Biology and Health

Contact Details

The Henry Wellcome Building, Fitzwilliam Street, Cambridge, CB2 1QH


Person keywords: 
Developmental plasticity
Human Growth and Development
Life history
Biological Anthropology
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
Periods of interest: 
Other Historical