Childhood obesity prediction and prevention

Project Code: 10377756

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Professor Wayne Cutfield

Application open date: 16 May 2017

Application deadline: 31 Oct 2017

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


There is a global obesity epidemic currently occuring that begins in early childhood. New Zealand has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the world with 1 in 3 children starting school either overweight or obese. These rates are even higher for Māori and Pacific children. Treatment of established obesity is far less effective at managing obesity than preventing it in the first place.

Identification of infants at risk of obesity will enable a more strategic approach that will focus on intervention and support for those infants and families that could receive greatest benefit. The project will be largely community-based, working predominantly with Māori, Pacific and less affluent families. Ultimately there is an expectation that the research will translate into positive community interventions that can be widely applied and lead to a reduction in childhood obesity.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

The ideal candidate(s) will be of Māori or Pacific Island descent as these are both critical communities involved in the research planned.

Undergraduate experience in epidemiology or health sciences will be important.

This project is part of the 'A Better Start' National Science Challenge obesity team's research. The successful applicant will receive a Challenge stipend and fees provided.


1. Development of an obesity prediction model at birth for childhood obesity at 4-5 years of age.

2. Assessment of parents and whānau views of the prediction model and how it could be implemented.

3. Assessment of a multifaceted early obesity prevention strategy that includes obesity prediction.

Other information

We are seeking a PhD student or Masters students to start as soon as possible.

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