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Population Health Researchers Win Major Grants

21 August 2003

MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Use

School of Population Health Researchers Win Major Grants

Two research teams at the University of Auckland School of Population Health are beneficiaries of major international research grants announced today by the Health Research Council.

International Collaborative Research Grants worth more than NZ$8 million have been awarded to two project teams undertaking research on health issues that affect people in the Pacific.

The Pacific Obesity Prevention in Communities (OPIC) project which will examine the
effectiveness of a range of interventions to prevent obesity among young people in Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand, and Australia.

One of the lead researchers, Associate Professor Robert Scragg from the School of Population Health said obesity is a rapidly escalating, worldwide epidemic.

“Obesity rates among the top 10 causes of the global burden of ill health. Community-based projects to prevent obesity are urgently required, in all Pacific countries including New Zealand.

“The theory is that the best way of preventing obesity is to target programmes at young people – but there has not been any rigorous research to test if this approach delivers significant benefits. We will be examining the effectiveness of intervention strategies in schools, churches, villages and neighbourhoods in New Zealand and in the Pacific,” said Associate Professor Scragg.

Teams from The University of Auckland School of Population Health, the Fiji School of Medicine and Deakin University in Victoria, Australia will collaborate on the OPIC project.

The other project to gain funding is the “Traffic related injury in the Pacific project” (TRIP), led by Professor Rod Jackson and Dr Sitaleki Finau, both from The University of Auckland School of Population Health. (Dr Filau is currently on leave from the School and is based at the Fiji School of Medicine).

“The grant will enable us to examine traffic related injury in Fiji. Our findings will provide a solid scientific basis for the development of future prevention policies and actions aimed at reducing the human cost of this serious health issue,” said Professor Jackson. “Traffic related injuries are a huge problem in developing countries – but little research has been done on the scale of the problem or the potential solutions in the Pacific.”

The International Collaborative Research Grants have been made possible through a partnership with the UK-based international funding charity, the Wellcome Trust, the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. The focus of the grants is to fund top quality, multi-disciplinary research that will help to improve health among people in the Asia-Pacific region.

ENDS

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