Tū Ora

Project Completed

Research Team

Professor Sally Poppitt

Sally is the founding director of the Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Auckland and the Fonterra Chair in Human Nutrition and the principal investigator of the Metabolic Health programme. Sally’s research has long been focused on the prevention and treatment of conditions arising from poor nutrition including overweight and obesity, metabolic dysregulation and diabetic and cardiovascular risk. She has extensive experience in conducting nutrition intervention trials in developed and developing countries.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2214-8378

Public Summary

Principal Investigator: Professor Sally Poppitt, University of Auckland

Collaborating Organisations: Capital and Coast DHB, AgResearch, University of Otago, NUKU ki te Puku™ Ltd

The High-Value Nutrition Tū Ora project is focused on supporting innovation within the food and beverage (F&B) industry through science excellence in the area of diabetes prevention; and is a collaboration between the HVN Metabolic Health priority research programme and the NUKU ki te Puku™ Māori business cluster. The science programme is led by Prof Sally Poppitt from the University of Auckland Human Nutrition Unit (science director) and Dr Meika Foster (programme director for NUKU ki te Puku™), who are collaborating with A/Prof Jeremy Krebs from the University of Otago Wellington Medical School in a diabetes prevention study. Tū Ora aims to evaluate a healthy snack/meal replacement in a group of overweight Asian Chinese consumers with pre-diabetes. Chinese adults are often at high risk of developing diabetes even when young and outwardly lean, possibly due to adverse deposition of fat into key organs such as pancreas and liver. The product being evaluated in Tū Ora is a higher protein/lower carbohydrate/unsaturated fat plant-based product which may help to achieve better glucose control. The clinical study conducted throughout 2018 and into 2019 is expected to have immediate impact for New Zealand industry, with the successful product targeted for commercialisation by NUKU ki te Puku™ in Asia in 2019-20.

As part of the HVN Vision Matāuranga platform, Tū Ora has 4 interlinking sub-projects: (i) science program – aligned to the umbrella HVN PANaMAH Metabolic Health program, where phenotyping of a large Asian Chinese cohort of lean/overweight, healthy/pre-diabetic adults has been undertaken in the TOFI_Asia study, Tū Ora is now investigating response to a nutrition intervention targeting better glucose control. This study is evaluating a new product based on the well known Mediterranean heart healthy diet, hypothesised to also help in prevention of diabetes;  (ii) product formulation and development, in collaboration with the Riddet Institute – informed by scientific literature and regulations in New Zealand and China related to nutrient content and health claims, stage 1 has focused on development of a pilot, small scale product, whilst stage 2 is addressing the NUKU™ scale-up and commercialisation requirements, such as long shelf-life & food safety, palatability of the new product for Asian consumers, and branding position for a uniquely New Zealand product; (iii)  commercialisation – focused on Asia,  including market research, consumer preferences  and motivation to purchase healthy foods; identifying and assessing viability of opportunities for regional development; and (iv) education – aims to address knowledge gaps that may currently inhibit Māori businesses from engaging in science, technology, high growth IP development, and commercialisation. The education experience respects Māori values and aspirations and is designed to ‘lift and shift’ Māori businesses and boards so that they are inspired to be involved in the development of new food products for export with validated health benefits.

The F&B intervention began at the end of May 2018. Eligible overweight Asian Chinese participants have now completed a 12 week intervention comparing the new higher protein, higher good fat product with a conventional higher carbohydrate, lower fat cereal based product; assessing both post meal and longer term responses. Study outcomes are expected later in 2019.


Metabolic Health highlights

What does the HVN Synergy Study involve?

What does the HVN Synergy Study involve?

Dr Jennifer Miles-Chan explains what the HVN Synergy Study involves The HVN Metabolic Health priority research programme aims to identify established and novel blood, urine and faecal microbiome markers of increased type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk in Asian Chinese...