Research Highlights

Results from world-first ASCEND study published in The Lancet

The results from NIHI’s ASCEND study, a world-first randomised controlled trial on e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, has been published in the world’s leading medical journal, The Lancet.

The research was led by NIHI director Dr Chris Bullen, and co-authored by NIHI’s Dr Colin Howe, Varsha Parag and Dr Natalie Walker; Dr Murray Laugesen of Health New Zealand; Dr Hayden McRobbie of the Institute of Preventive Medicine, UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies, Queen Mary University of London; and Dr Jonathan Williman of the University of Otago.

The results were also presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday, 9 September 2013.

The Lancet article can be downloaded here:

For more information about the ASCEND study and results visit:

Improving nutrition and health

Ways to encourage people to make healthier food choices will be the subject of a five-year $5 million research programme led by NIHI Nutrition Programme Leader, Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu.

The programme, entitled ‘Effective interventions and policies to improve population nutrition and health’, has received funding from the Health Research Council (HRC) in its 2013 research programme funding round announced this week.

Professor Ni Mhurchu believes the study could help ease the burden of diet-related disease on the country's health system.

Unhealthy diet leads to an estimated 11,000 deaths each year in New Zealand, from heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, she says.

"We don't have very good evidence about how potential interventions like better nutrition labels and strategic pricing really impact on people's behaviour and food choices," Dr Ni Mhurchu explains.

The project will assess four methods of improving population diets, including:

  • Simple front-of-pack nutrition labels
  • Policies to make healthy foods cheaper and unhealthy foods more expensive
  • Changing the make-up of food to reduce salt, saturated fat and sugar
  • Restricting food marketing to children.

Innovative technologies will be used to test interventions and measure their effect on diet and long-term health.

Findings from the research will inform policies on the most effective and cost-effective ways to improve population diets and health.

For more information on the HRC’s funding investments for 2013, visit:$24.8m-awarded-to-top-research-programmes

HeaVen - a healthy vending project

vending_machinesAn exciting new project in collaboration with the Waitemata District Health Board. Take a look in most vending machines, and it is clear they don’t usually provide a large range of healthy food choices. A major goal of public health interventions is to change the current obesogenic environment to one that is more supportive of healthy choices. One step in this direction is to offer healthier food choices from vending machines.

The HeaVen study aims to evaluate the impact of implementing healthy choice guidelines on the nutrient profile and sales of vending machine snacks and customer satisfaction. This research will provide essential evidence to guide implementation of healthy vending criteria on a wider scale.

Nutrition Labelling

milk-cartonOver 90% of us claim to check nutrition labels on at least some occasions when shopping. But how often do consumers really use nutrition labels and do they really understand them?

A scientific review of consumer use and understanding of nutrition labels was funded by the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand, and a report describing the findings is now available. For more information, please contact Dr Cliona Ni Mhurchu.