Public Health

Understanding children's perspectives of neighbourhood destinations

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Melody Smith

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS001

Neighbourhoods for Active Kids is a cross-sectional study of over 1100 children in Auckland New Zealand. This novel project investigates children's use of their neighbourhoods using online interactive mapping. Data have been collected on destinations visited in and around children's neighbourhoods, how children get to these destinations, how much they like the destinations, and what they like and dislike about them. The aims of this studentship project are: (1) to conduct descriptive analyses to understand use of these neighbourhood places, (2) to generate meaningful insights about preferences, likes, and dislikes about places around children's neighbourhoods, and (3) to conduct a narrative literature review to contextualise this research.

Early life events and long-term health: evidence from Swedish population data

Supervisor

Dr José Derraik

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS004

As part of a collaboration with colleagues at Uppsala University in Sweden, we have been working with healthcare registry data on a very large number of women (approximately 300,000). Our studies have examined associations between early life events and potential long-term effects in adulthood, particularly in regards to obesity risk. As a result, we have published a number of studies on these data that have attracted considerable interest amongst the general public and the national and international media:

Serial peak expiratory flow rates in mothers during caesarean section under extradural anaesthesia.

Obesity rates in two generations of Swedish women entering pregnancy, and associated obesity risk among adult daughters.

First-borns have greater BMI and are more likely to be overweight or obese: a study of sibling pairs among 26,812 Swedish women.

Maternal Height and Preterm Birth: A Study on 192,432 Swedish Women.

Association Between Preterm Birth and Lower Adult Height in Women.

However, we are planning a number of studies on different cohorts of Swedish men, women, and children. As a result, we are hoping a student may be able to extend this work with us, and we are seeking someone who is: highly motivated, capable of working independently and able to provide evidence of proficiency in writing in English. The ultimate aim would be for the student to end up with one peer-reviewed publication as first or second author. Depending on the student's ability, it may even be possible to write up more than one study.  

Pedometry for measuring free living activity in public health research

Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Melody Smith

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS011

Objective measurement of physical activity is optimal in public health research, particularly because it reduces a range of biases associated with social desirability bias, recall issues, and comprehension. While accelerometry is the preferred method of objective activity assessment, accelerometer unit cost and complexities in data treatment preclude their use in large scale research. Pedometers offer a useful alternative to accelerometers - they provide a simple metric (steps per day) and are more cost effective than more complex alternatives. Challenges exist with pedometer data treatment, particularly around data inclusion criteria, including how many steps per day constitute a valid day, and how many days of data are needed to generate an accurate representation of an individual's activity levels.     

The aims of this summer studentship are to conduct a literature review to understand approaches to pedometer data treatment to date, and to conduct descriptive analyses of existing pedometer data to examine the impact of differing inclusion criteria on data retention.

Comparing nutrient data in a national food composition database with information collected from packaged food labels

Supervisor

Prof. Cliona Ni Mhurchu

Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

Project code: MHS012

This project aims to compare and contrast the nutrient data held in two unique food composition databases. The New Zealand Food Composition Database (NZFCD) is the the largest and most comprehensive collection of nutrient data in New Zealand. Nutritrack is a database of nutrient data collected yearly from mandatory Nutrition Information Panels on packaged foods in supermarkets.     

The overall aim is to compare and contrast key nutrient data (energy, protein, total fat, saturated fat, carbohydrate, sugar, sodium and fibre) held in both databases for commonly consumed packaged food groups. Project objectives are to undertake a literature review to understand how comparable such data are likely to be, and to conduct descriptive analysis of foods common to both databases to identify key similarities and differences in nutrient composition.