Children + Young Adults


NIHI has extensive experience in undertaking research involving children and young adults.

Current research highlights

Games for Health

This is a feasibility study investigating whether serious games can improve children's knowledge of healthy lifestyles and type 2 diabetes.

We are recruiting children who either have an immediate family member with type 2 diabetes, have been told by their doctor that they are at risk, or are overweight.





MyTeen is a randomised controlled trial of a text-based mobile programme to promote parental competence and mental health literacy for parents / caregivers of adolescents aged 10-15 to see if the programme is useful and/or effective for parents. The trial is being undertaken by researchers at the National Institute for Health Innovation and is funded by A Better Start Cure Kids grant. The lead investigator is Dr Joanna Chu.

214 parents will be randomised to either intervention or care as usual group. Participants in the intervention group will receive text messages that provide instructional, informational and emotional support. These will include evidence-based information on the nature and symptoms of common youth mental health problems, understanding treatment options, strategies to improve parent-child communication, parent self-care, and useful links to resources.

The programme will be delivered over 4 weeks (1 daily text message). Participants in the care-as-usual group will receive no programme from the research team. They will be offered the text-messaging programme after the completion of the 3 month follow-up questionnaire. Due to the brief and preventative nature of the programme, people who report a high level of stress during screening, will not be able to take part in the study, and will be directed to professional services. For more information, please contact us at


See How They Grow

See How They Grow is a study which aims to help parents and carers learn about their child’s growth. Children's growth is an important sign of their health and development. Growth assessment is one of the easiest ways to examine the health and nutrition of children, because changes in health and nutrition almost always affect growth. Over the next 18 months we are undertaking a set of research activities aimed at developing a mobile app to capture and monitor child(ren)’s growth, initially from birth to 2 years, but in the long term from birth to 5 years. The goal of the app is to see if it can help parents and carers to recognise a healthy body weight in the child and provide strategies and actions to support healthy growth.

For more information, please contact us at or visit our website.



Previous Research Highlights


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The primary aim of this trial was to determine whether a multimedia mobile phone-based depression prevention programme is effective at reducing depressive symptoms at 12 months compared with adolescents receiving a control programme. 1,200 adolescents (Years 9-12) were recruited via participating schools from the Auckland region.


Space2Breathe aimed to ascertain whether provision of an asthma intervention (asthma education in an Early Childhood Education setting in conjunction with a GASP assessment, education and self-management plan [SMP]) to 2 to 5 year old children with diagnosed asthma or a high probability of asthma, and their guardians/caregivers, improves asthma outcomes at 12 months after the introduction of the intervention compared with provision of usual care. Eligible children aged between 2 and 4 years 8 months were recruited from participating Waitemata District Health Board Early Childhood Centres.


Kids' Cam aimed to examine food environments, specifically, the frequency, duration and nature of children’s exposure to food and non-alcoholic beverage marketing, documenting differences by setting, and exploring ethnic and socioeconomic differences.





Virtual Supermarket

NIHI collaborated with LENSCIENCE and the Nutrition Foundation to educate children about healthy eating using a Virtual Supermarket developed by NIHI researchers


The main objective of this study was to determine the effects of active video games over 6 months on: body mass index (BMI), percent body fat, waist circumference, cardio-respiratory fitness, and physical activity levels in children.


SWITCH aimed to determine the effect of an intervention to reduce screen-based sedentary behaviour on body composition, sedentary behaviour, physical activity and nutrition in New Zealand children and their primary caregiver.


A stepped-wedge randomised controlled trial to determine whether provision of a free breakfast improves attendance, academic performance, nutrition and food security in children attending decile 1-4 primary schools in New Zealand. The study recruited children aged 5-12 years from 20 decile 1-4 primary schools in the North Island (Auckland, Northland, Waikato, and Wellington) who attended a school breakfast programme.