$2.8m awarded to new research addressing child health challenges

04 July 2017
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Research to understand how High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can help teenagers ward off mental health problems is one of ten projects to receive funding through a new $2.8m child health research funding collaboration.

Co-funding has been provided by A Better Start, a Government funded National Science Challenge, and child health research charity, Cure Kids. The projects were selected from over 60 applications and focus on four key areas – obesity, mental health, literacy and autism spectrum disorder. The successful proposals reflect the focus in the contestable round for research with a strong potential to enable Māori and Pasifika children and their families to lead healthy and successful lives.

Other projects funded include exploring how ancestral Māori knowledge could form the basis of a cultural framework to respond to and improve the mental health and wellbeing of tamariki; how to facilitate well-being and positive behaviour in children with literacy learning difficulties, and; understanding some of the complexities of genetic diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Cure Kids CEO, Frances Benge, said the collaboration sought to deliver tangible benefits for New Zealand children and their families. “These are important challenges facing our young people, and we are excited about the new knowledge to be developed through these research projects and the impact they will have on improving the health of our children”

A Better Start National Science Challenge Director, Professor Wayne Cutfield, of the Liggins Institute, University of Auckland said, “The earlier we tackle a child’s health problems, the greater the benefit to the child throughout its life.  These new projects aim to identify practical, evidence-based solutions to make a measurable difference for our children.”

Professor Cutfield said that the successful proposals had been subject to a rigorous process which included peer review and assessment by independent expert panels.“We were impressed with the quality of the proposals submitted. It’s really exciting to be directing resource into such innovative science,” said Professor Cutfield.

Click here for summaries of the research proposals.

More about the Cure Kids/A Better Start funding round

The A Better Start and Cure Kids contestable funding round was launched on 1 February to seeking research proposals that would lead to better ways to reduce childhood obesity, improve early literacy, reduce adolescent mental health problems and explore early diagnosis and behavioural management of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

·         one in three New Zealand children are overweight or obese

·         one in three children are not meeting the National Standard for reading in their first year at school

·         one in three young people will have had a significant mental health problem by the age of 18