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Unhealthy diet is the leading preventable risk factor for poor health. We undertake world-leading population nutrition research that aims to improve the diet-related health of all New Zealanders and reduce burden of disease

Current research highlights

Dietary Interventions: Evidence & Translation (DIET) Programme

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DIET Programme

A five-year programme of nutrition intervention research. Funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand, it includes five projects examining approaches to improving food environments and population diets:

Key themes of the programme are:

  • Scalable, population-level interventions
  • Focus on Māori and Pacific peoples
  • Ease of translation to policy action
  • Use of innovative intervention and measurement technologies.

The programme team includes:

  • Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Dr Helen Eyles, Dr Wilma Waterlander, Dr Yannan Jiang, NIHI, University of Auckland
  • Professor Tony Blakely and Associate Professor Louise Signal, Department of Public Health, University of Otago Wellington
  • Professor Bruce Neal, The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney
  • Professor Mike Rayner, British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease Prevention, University of Oxford 

For more information please visit the DIET website


SALTS is part of the DIET programme. The aim of SALTS (Salt ALTernatives Study) is to understand the effect a 12-week dietary salt reduction programme will have on systolic blood pressure for people with high blood pressure. Participants will be randomly allocated to two groups receiving either the dietary salt reduction programme (SaltSwitch smartphone app + dietary alternative salt) or general information about heart-healthy eating. For more information and key findings, visit the SALTS website.

New Zealand Nutrition National Survey Development

The contract for the development of the next National Nutrition Survey commenced in late 2021. The aim of the survey is to provide up-to-date information on dietary intake and nutritional status which are essential for developing and evaluating evidence-based policies and programmes to improve the health of the population and help reduce inequities. A nutrition survey will support the New Zealand Health Strategy. The development is funded by the Ministry of Health in a two-year contract with the proposed end date of 2023.

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HYPE (HealthY Policy Evaluation)

HealthY Policy Evaluation (HYPE) is a three-year study that will investigate and evaluate food and drink options on offer at New Zealand’s District Health Boards (DHBs) and some central government agencies with respect to the National Healthy Food and Drink Policy.

This research will look at how well the Policy has been adopted and implemented, its impact on food availability and purchases, resource requirements to implement and increase adoption of the Policy, and the equity implications for Māori, Pasifika and low-income New Zealanders.

This study is funded by the Healthier lives He Oranga Hauora National Science Challenge and sits within the Healthy Food and Physical Activity Environments research theme, one of three themes in the Healthier Lives 2019-2024 research strategy. For more information please email us.

OL@-OR@ (WellTEXT)

This four-year project to design and evaluate a mobile-phone delivered (mHealth) healthy lifestyle support programme for Māori and Pasifika in New Zealand was completed in 2019.

The research was a partnership where Māori and Pacific leaders and communities co-designed the mHealth programme with the research team. Through this process a culturally tailored app and website was developed and the tool was evaluated through a cluster randomised control trial.

Funded by the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, the projects aim was to reduce risk factors for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The OL@-OR@ app is still available for use. For more information please visit the OL@-OR@ website.



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