Healthier Lives Newsletter September 2022

13 September 2022

Kei te whakanui mātou i te wiki o te reo Māori 2022! I mohio koe kua kitea e ngā rangahau a Healthier Lives ētahi tohu o te hononga i waenga i te korero i te reo Maori, me te pāpātanga iti iho o te mate huka i roto i ngā tau?

In this issue:

  • Funding announcement: New projects
  • Report: Inventory of policies for major non-communicable diseases
  • Event: Transforming Lives, 100 years of insulin
  • Event: National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference
  • Job vacancy: Business Support Coordinator
  • In the news: Medical bias;how people move around; is BMI still useful?
  • Congratulations: Professor Sue Crengle

Funding announcements

Healthier Lives is pleased to announce funding for two new projects. This completes our research portfolio for phase 2 of National Science Challenges.

Healthier Lives Implementation Research Network

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Healthier Lives has awarded $763,837 for the development of a network to facilitate the translation of research evidence into practice, with the goal of reducing health inequities for Māori and Pacific communities.

Novel, evidence-based community programmes to address non-communicable diseases have previously been developed, but these research products haven’t always found their way into wider practice due to lack of appropriate processes to facilitate their implementation.

A network to facilitate research implementation will be created through a collaborative co-design approach, ensuring that community providers have options and self-determination in identifying how programmes can be adapted to fit their local context.

The network will provide an infrastructure for sharing information about novel programmes, help to build capacity around implementation of the programmes, support active implementation for some providers, and identify key lessons learnt about research implementation.

The project includes a co-design phase where network members (particularly providers) will help define the focus and needs of the network, and then an active implementation phase involving small-scale pilot implementation of relevant programmes in several communities.

The project is co-led by Professor John Oetzel (University of Waikato), Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu (University of Otago), Darrio Penetito-Hemara (Toi Tangata) and Akarere Henry (South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services).

Te Kāika DiRECT: A primary care-led weight management intervention for adults with diabetes and obesity

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A New Zealand pilot study of a low-energy formula diet, that has proven useful in the management of type 2 diabetes overseas, has been granted $210,000 by Healthier Lives. The project is already underway with seed funding from the Ministry for Social Development.

The DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) studies have shown enormous potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes-related health conditions. However, this approach has not been tested in Aotearoa New Zealand. “What we don’t know is if this type of weight loss programme works for people in Aotearoa, or if it clashes with our cultural and social norms” says Takiwai Russell-Camp, who is conducting the interviews to assess the acceptability of DiRECT with participants.
This pilot study is being conducted at Te Kāika Health, a Māori Health Provider in South Dunedin, with 40 adult participants with obesity and prediabetes/type 2 diabetes who are looking to lose weight. “Participants will be randomised to either one year of dietetic counselling, free gym membership, and grocery vouchers to buy healthy foods or the DiRECT protocol: three-months total meal replacement followed by nine-months weight-loss maintenance phase” said Natalie Ashton, the Dietitian managing the study. 

The project is co-led by GP Dr Kim Ma’ia’i, and Drs Andrew Reynolds and Justine Camp, researchers based at the University of Otago.

Inventory of policies for major non-communicable diseases

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Healthier Lives was interested in finding out more about the policy landscape that supports the delivery of our mission – the equitable prevention and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.  So, we teamed up with the University of Auckland’s Public Policy Institute of and Master’s student Cameron Leakey who made an inventory of relevant government policies, action plans and guidelines.

Does Aotearoa New Zealand have a cohesive set of policies driving national efforts to combat the major non-communicable diseases? 

Read more

Upcoming events

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Transforming Lives: 100 years of insulin

1-5pm, Thursday 24 November 2022 
Wellington and online 

A half day symposium in the Grand Hall at Parliament will celebrate the many lives that have been saved since the first person with diabetes received insulin treatment.   

Healthier Lives is joining forces with the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre (EDOR), Diabetes NZ and Lions NZ District 202F, to highlight the importance of technologies that assist in the management of diabetes, and why these devices should be accessible to all who need them in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Sign up here to receive updates on the symposium, including notification of the livestream link, and to be contacted when registration for the in-person event opens in October.  

More information is available on the EDOR website

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2022 National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference

Kaumātua Tino Rangatiratanga – He iringa korero ki apopo: From Yesterday to Tomorrow

14-16 November 2022

Healthier Lives is proud to sponsor the 2022 National Kaumātua Service Providers Conference, hosted by Ngā Tai O Te Awa.

This conference builds on lessons from the past to identify the actions needed to ensure that today’s and tomorrow’s Kaumātua are better informed, connected, healthier, resourced and experience a greater sense of self-determination in their ageing journey. 

Discussion will take place in five streams: pandemic & emergency response, technology, health, housing, and wellbeing.

More information and registration is available on the Ngā Tai o Te Awa website.

Job vacancy

Healthier Lives is currently seeking to recruit a part-time Business Support Coordinator. The post is Dunedin-based and offers a fixed-term contract to August 2024, with the flexibility to work 3 or 4 days a week. We think that working with our team of fantastic scientists around Aotearoa makes this role more interesting than most.

The closing date for applications is 23 September. If you think you might be interested, we’d love to hear from you. 

More details: Business Support Co-ordinator | University of Otago

In the news

Inbuilt bias in the medical system

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Professor Sue Crengle (University of Otago), Healthier Lives principal investigator, discusses inbuilt bias in the medical system following the publication of research which found that using international medical standards may lead to the under-recognition of cardiac enlargement in Māori and Pacific populations.

What is medical bias, anyway? | The Spinoff

How people move around

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Members of the ACTIVATION research project, funded by Healthier Lives and Ageing Well, have been commenting in the media about how people move around, how this affects our health and the climate, and how our individual choices are incentivised.

Ministry of Transport adviser and Healthier Lives principal investigator Professor Simon Kingham peer-reviewed Christchurch City Council’s draft transport plan. He advocates for making the alternatives to driving more attractive.

Bold transport vision aims to lure residents from their cars |

Recently released data shows that nitrogen dioxide pollution from car exhaust fumes is harming New Zealander’s health.  Professor Kingham warns that being inside a car does not offer protection from the fumes.

Emissions Reduction Plan needs to be accelerated to curb air pollution – science advisor | RNZ News

The decision by transport agency Waka Kotahi to raise the speed limit on the new Waikato Expressway to 110kph from July 13 is expected to increase carbon emissions by more than 4,300 tonnes a year while saving 4 minutes and 20 seconds in travel time over the entire 78km journey. Professor Kingham says we should be concerned about decisions like this and notes the effect of induced demand: “If you make it easier to travel long distances, people do travel further.”

Waikato Expressway’s 110kph speed limit will boost carbon emissions |

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Dr Helen Fitt (University of Lincoln) says there is growing interest in shared transport that is practical, supported by local infrastructure, comfortable and socially acceptable

Government funds transport blueprint for high-density homes | Newsroom

Is BMI a useful measure of health

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There has been a lot of commentary around the limitations of using Body Mass Index (BMI) in some populations, but does this mean that BMI is not useful at all? 

Healthier Lives Director Professor Jim Mann talked with Emile Donovan from Newsroom’s The Detail about why BMI is still important for determining health at a population level, and how it can be useful in a clinical setting for identifying people at risk of certain health issues.  

Why Are We Still Using The BMI? | Newsroom


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We warmly congratulate Professor Sue Crengle (Kāti Moe, Kāi Tahu, Waitaha) who received the 2022 Maarire Goodall Supreme Award. 

Te Ora, the Māori Medical Practitioners Association, bestows this prestigious award annually to an outstanding and influential Māori doctor.

Recent publications

Gerritsen S, Kidd B, Rosin M, Shen S, Mackay S, Te Morenga L, Ni Mhurchu C (2022) 2021 Assessment of New Zealand district health boards’ institutional healthy food and drink policies: the HealthY Policy Evaluation (HYPE) studyNew Zealand Medical Journal Vol 135 No 1560.

McKinlay E, Hilder J, Hood F, Morgan S, Barthow C, Gray B, Huthwaite M, Weatherall M, Crane J, Krebs J, Pullon S (2022) Uncertainty and certainty: perceptions and experiences of prediabetes in New Zealand primary care – a qualitative studyJournal of Primary Health Care 14, 138-145. doi: 10.1071/HC21066

Barthow C, Hood F, Crane J, Huthwaite M, Weatherall M, Parry-Strong A, Krebs J. (2022) A randomised controlled trial of a probiotic and a prebiotic examining metabolic and mental health outcomes in adults with pre-diabetesBMJ Open 2022;12:e055214. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055214

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Research findings briefs

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Healthier Lives’ research findings briefs distil evidence from completed research projects in an easy-to-read format.

Research findings briefs for completed Healthier Lives projects are available on the Resources page of our website.

View our 2019-24 Research Strategy

He Pikinga Waiora Research Findings Brief

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