School of Medical Sciences

Public health nutrition

Principal investigator


Poor diet and obesity are leading causes of mortality and morbidity worldwide. Our Nutrition Research Programme targets important determinants of these conditions, and focuses on policy and practice-relevant interventions to inform national and international efforts to improve eating habits and prevent obesity. Key areas of research include food pricing, nutrition labelling, portion sizes, household food security, and processed food (re)formulation.

Specific Projects

  • A stepped wedge cluster randomised trial evaluating the effects of a free school breakfast on children’s school attendance, academic achievement, behaviour, and short-term hunger
  • A simulation modelling project to quantify the effects of a range of targeted food taxes and subsidies on New Zealand population diet, health, and burden of disease
  • A randomised controlled trial to determine the effect of an intervention to reduce screen-based sedentary behaviour on body composition, sedentary behaviour, physical activity and nutrition in children

Selected References

  • Ni Mhurchu C, Capelin C, Dunford EK, Webster JL, Neal BC, Jebb SA. Sodium content of processed foods in the United Kingdom: analysis of 44,000 foods purchased by 21,000 households. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011; 93: 954-600
  • Ni Mhurchu C, Turley M, Gorton D, Jiang Y, Michie J, Maddison R, Hattie J. Effects of a free school breakfast programme on school attendance, achievement, psychosocial function, and nutrition: a stepped wedge cluster randomised trial [Study protocol]. BMC Public Health 2010; 10:738 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-738
  • Ni Mhurchu C, Blakely T, Jiang Y, Eyles HC, Rodgers A. Effects of price discounts and tailored nutrition education on supermarket purchases: a randomized, controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010; 91(3): 736-47
  • Bowers S, Carter K, Gorton D, Heta C, Lanumata T, Maddison R, McKerchar C, Ni Mhurchu C, O’ Dea D, Pearce J, Signal L, Walton M. Enhancing food security and physical activity for Maori, Pacific and low-income peoples. Report prepared for the Health Research Council and the Ministry of Health, 2009
  • Gorton D, Ni Mhurchu C, Chen M, Dixon R. Nutrition labels: a survey of use, understanding, and preferences among ethnically diverse shoppers in New Zealand. Public Health Nutrition 2008; 12(9): 1359-1365