Health study brings families back to scale

Professor Clare Collins, said the unique scales, valued at over $30,000, played an integral part in research that aimed to evaluate the usefulness of a survey used to track usual foods consumed by Australian parents and their children.

As well as determining weight, muscle mass and fat percentage, the high-tech equipment also measures specific body composition elements and provides guidance on healthy body make-up.

“The scales have the ability to detect where people store their body fat, for example the waist or the hip area, and the scales can also tell if the participant’s right arm has more muscle than the left.” Professor Collins said. We use this information to help assess the family members entering the study.”

The participants visit the research lab twice over a five month period to have their body composition and health measures taken and parents and carers are asked to fill in questionnaires about their family’s usual food intake and physical activity levels.

The results from the study will be used to develop a tool to assess the dietary intake of parents in Australia. The findings will contribute to a better understanding of the relationship between diet and health, as well as the relationship between parents’ and their children’s eating habits.

“Our study aims to produce an accurate snapshot of the way parents and children actually eat – what types of foods they consume and the things that influence this,” Professor Collins said.

Professor Collins said the team was looking for families in the Newcastle and Hunter areas with a child or children aged between eight and 12 years, to be involved in the study.

Adults will be asked to have a blood test at the conclusion of the study. Blood tests for children are optional.

The study is based at the University of Newcastle and is funded by Meat and Livestock Australia.

For more information on this study or to register your interest contact the project research assistant Ms Caitlin West on 02 4921 5405 or [email protected]

Professor Collins and her team are members of the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s (HMRI) Public Health, Mothers and Babies and Cardiovascular programs. HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

For interviews with Chief Researcher Professor Clare Collins: Carmen Swadling, Media and Public Relations at the University of Newcastle, on 02 4985 4276 or 0428 038477.