How do non-nutritive sweeteners impact maternal and offspring health?

Project Code: 10373094

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Dr Clare Reynolds

Application open date: 17 Feb 2017

Application deadline: 17 Jun 2017

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


There is significant evidence that an unhealthy diet greatly increases the risk of complications during pregnancy and predisposes offspring to metabolic dysfunction and obesity. While fat intake is typically associated with the onset of obesity and its comorbidities, there is increasing evidence linking sugar, particularly high fructose corn syrup, to the global rise in obesity rates. Furthermore, the detrimental effects of fructose intake during pregnancy on mother and child have been clearly outlined. Guidelines advising pregnant women to avoid food and beverages with high fat and sugar have led to an increase in consumption of “diet” or “light” options. While these compounds reduce overall caloric load they have been linked to increased gut glucose absorption thereby promoting hyperglycaemia and insulin resistance. Despite their wide availability there is only limited information regarding their impact on maternal pregnancy outcomes, placental/fetal development and long term risk of cardio-metabolic complications in adult offspring. 

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

The applicant should have a background in a relevant biological science and a broad interest in physiology, fetal development, metabolic disease and/or nutrition.


Other information

This project will utilise a range of experimental protocols including small animal models, gene expression profiling, protein analysis, histology