Our research focus
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.
The Metabolic Health opportunity
Some people are more susceptible to metabolic conditions such as diabetes. Gaining even small amounts of weight can lead to the fat ‘spilling over’ from adipose tissue into the liver and pancreas, which in turn may significantly increase the risk of disease. The TOFI – ‘Thin on the Outside, Fat on the Inside’ profile refers to slim individuals who have high levels of abdominal and organ fat which may lead to increased susceptibility to diabetes. People of Asian ethnicity may be particularly at risk of TOFI. A research team is conducting clinical studies to try to answer questions like: ‘who is most at risk and why?’, ‘what are the early markers of disease, and do they differ in those resilient to diabetes?’, and ‘does lipid overspill matter?’ The team will explore ways to target these issues with food and beverages, particularly those aimed at key consumer groups in Asia.
Partnerships in Metabolic Health research
High-Value Nutrition has invested in partnerships with key businesses and a university to support the potential of two iconic New Zealand food products, research to help people remain independent as they age, and a novel approach to support Māori businesses to innovate by applying quality research.
Metabolic Health highlights
As barbeque season gets into full swing, New Zealand researchers are investigating whether certain kinds of red meat could actually protect against heart disease. Researchers have recruited men aged 35-55 willing to eat free meat three times a week for eight weeks in...
The High-Value Nutrition National Science Challenge has secured $53.2m funding to continue its mission-led programme of innovative research into the health and wellbeing attributes of New Zealand produced foods for our major export markets for a further five years....
At birth a baby’s digestive system is pristine and waiting to be rapidly colonised by millions of bacteria (microbiome). We know the health of a baby is linked to the health of its microbiome.The right balance and diversity of bacteria assist a baby to develop a...