Physical activity environment and obesity risk

Dr Matthew Hobbs’ research could help policymakers consider the impact environmental interventions have on preventing obesity.

Dr Matthew Hobbs’ research could help policymakers consider the impact environmental interventions have on preventing obesity.

A new study from University of Canterbury (UC) shows a link between recreational physical activity spaces in a neighbourhood and obesity risk in adults.  

Dr Matthew Hobbs, a researcher at the University of Canterbury’s GeoHealth Laboratory, has published one of the first longitudinal studies, research about an individual or group gathered over a long period of time, which suggests age may be a determining factor when analysing the relationship between an individual’s recreational physical activity environment and obesity. A recreational physical activity environment included parks, gyms, swimming pools, even ice rinks.  

The study was conducted in Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and tracked 8,864 people over three years. At its conclusion, it illustrated that if a young adult’s recreational physical activity environment provided opportunities to be physically active, risk of obesity was lower, however this relationship did not exist for older adults.  

“It is difficult to envisage a future where obesity prevalence decreases in environments that actively promote it,” Dr Hobbs says.  

“Our study showed that the recreational physical activity environments was related to obesity risk, but only in younger adults. An individual’s mobility varies with age and older adults are generally less mobile. While many factors affect mobility, it is plausible that the immediate residential neighbourhood environment may play a more important role in an individual’s daily life who remains closer to home.”  

According to Dr Hobbs, age has not previously been identified as a determining factor in this type of research.  

“The research is especially important for policymakers, as it offers tentative evidence that supports previous research which suggests that the environment may matter more for certain populations. This suggests that policymakers in Public Health and Planning need to consider the impact that environmental interventions have across the life course,” he says. 

“Obesity is associated with a range of diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and some cancers, so finding ways to stop people becoming obese is important for public health and for the public purse.”

-University of Canterbury

First female carpenter from Pacific Trades Partnership begins education in New Zealand

Samoan High Commissioner His Excellency Leasi Papali'i Tommy Scanlan. and Ma'aola Fiupepe (002).JPG

Ma’aola Fiupepe is starting an exciting new chapter; she has just arrived in New Zealand from Samoa to start using her Ara scholarship for the Centre of Assessment of Prior Learning (CAPL), so that in a year’s time she will have a New Zealand carpentry qualification.

Ma’aola was officially welcomed to Ara Institute of Canterbury last week on Friday 8 Feb, at the Trades campus in Woolston, where a lunch was held to celebrate her achievement in being the first female carpenter from the Pacific Trades Partnership (PTP), facilitated by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The visit began with a tour of the campus followed by an official welcome with speeches from Matt Hoskin Migrant Attraction Manager from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), Janice McNab General Manager at Tradestaff, Dave Dixon Manager of CAPL at Ara and the Samoan High Commissioner, His Excellency Leasi Papali'i Tommy Scanlan.

By going through the CAPL assessment process Ma’aola’s work experience will be credited towards the New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry. Ma’aola’s employer Tradestaff have also awarded her the Sally Macfarlane Legacy Scholarship for Pacific Women in Trades and are supporting her with equipment, tools, additional training costs and pastoral care.

Ma’aola started working as a carpenter in 2013, completed her Certificate III in Carpentry at the APTC in Samoa and she is now looking forward to gaining a New Zealand qualification and further experience.
“In Samoa it’s different from here. Sometimes we use the wrong tools because we don’t have the money to buy tools. But I’m looking forward to using the correct tools and a wider range here,” Ma’aola says.

In 2018, following a successful pilot programme, Ara was contracted by MBIE to oversee skills assessments of tradespeople in the Pacific Islands so that workers could be recruited to come to Christchurch. There have been 42 job offers from the Pacific Trades Partnership to date for workers to come to New Zealand.

Dixon said he is pleased to see Ma’aola starting a whole new learning journey. “We’re proud to be involved. It’s absolutely brilliant to have the first female carpenter coming from the Pacific Trades Partnership in Samoa.”

H.E Leasi Papali'i Tommy Scanlan said, “In Samoa carpentry and trades are mainly for the boys. Parents don’t encourage their girls to do that. But Ma’aola and other young women are going outside the box. They’ve decided that if the boys can do it, they can do it.”

He encouraged Ma’aola to look into other trades and developing management skills while she’s in New Zealand so that one day she might be able to start her own business.

-ARA

World first IoT farming tech trial in NZ

Kriv Naicker 7.12.17 (002).jpg

A pioneering arable farming tech trial is expected to make a quantum leap to help boost New Zealand’s primary export revenue.

New Zealand has a low understanding of how the internet of things (IoT) can assist with farm management and sustainability and adoption of precision agriculture techniques also remains low.

New Zealand’s primary industry export revenue is forecast to reach $43.8 billion for the year to June 2019, an increase of 2.5 percent from 2018.

The latest Ministry for Primary Industries Situation and Outlook report gives an encouraging assessment of the major primary sectors which continue to grow, up $1.1 billion from the previous year.

The IoT tech trial at Kowhai Farm is a New Zealand IoT Alliance pilot in collaboration with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The pilot aims to demonstrate that with the better use of digital technologies New Zealand primary sector businesses will be more productive and more competitive irrespective of their size or the sector they are operating in, NZ IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

“Worldwide, the adoption and implementation of precision agriculture has become possible because of the development of sophisticated sensors, robots and sensor networks combined with procedures to link mapped variables to appropriate farming management actions,” he says.

“Sensors, either wired or wireless, integrated into an IoT system gather essential data needed for cost effective and sustainable farm management.

“The IoT demonstration pilot is being undertaken on a site administered by the Foundation for Arable Research. The pilot is showcasing the technology needed for precision agriculture methods and techniques in a hands-on pilot demonstration that will be monitored and evaluated by the foundation.

“The trial aims to get farmers to see the value in deploying technology which is rapidly evolving and we feel that 2019 could be the tipping the point for New Zealand and the farming export sector,” Naicker says.

With the environmental impact of agriculture on the New Zealand landscape being a concern, farmers are improving their practices to minimise possible impacts. The installation of nitrate sensors in groundwater monitoring wells will help monitor the dynamics of nitrates.

 Using the IoT technology to provide a low cost and effective infrastructure to deliver nitrate readings to the cloud will allow groups of farmers to monitor their collective performance and work together to develop further mitigations if required. 

 A monitoring bore near Kowhai Farm has been instrumented with a Hydrometrics nitrate sensor. On the property Aquaflex soil moisture sensors, climate and plant heath sensors are also installed to demonstrate what is possible.

Four technology companies are working together in the first phase of the trial, the Tru Track consortium consists of, Tru Track, Lincoln Agritech, Met Technology Limited and Aquaflex NZ which is a division of Streat Instruments. The current demonstration is using the Sigfox network to deliver the data.

MBIE digital economy policy advisor Sandra Laws says the next phase of the pilot will see Spark and KotahiNet deploy a range of their sensors.

“This will further add to the data we’re collecting on growing conditions. Overall, the pilot will provide valuable insight into the potential of these emerging technologies, which could help boost the productivity and sustainability of New Zealand farm management practices,” she says.

-Make Lemonade

NZ leading the way with global biotech experts

Dr Zahra Champion

Dr Zahra Champion

The New Zealand biotech sector is poised to soar this year with world leading expertise across health, fuel and food research which can help feed the world, BiotechNZ executive director Zahra Champion says. 

Dr Champion made the comments today following the announcement that the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which is the world's largest biotech trade association, and American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) have launched Innovature

“This is an exciting new global step providing a platform to spark thoughtful dialogue around innovation in food and agriculture, with an initial focus on gene editing. BiotechNZ is a member of BIO. 

“New Zealand's laws and regulations governing genetic modification are among the most rigorous in the world. However, this should not stop the New Zealand public understanding gene editing and how it is spurring new developments in food and agriculture to address some of our most pressing societal challenges. 

“This Innovature platform will enable healthy debate, but it’s also about creating solutions between people, organisations and countries that have expertise in certain areas. 

“The word biotechnology has many meanings involving medtech, agritech, foodtech, clean tech, high tech manufacturing and biopharma. However, technology that involves the use of living organisms, in agriculture, food science, and medicine is still defined as biotechnology. 

“New Zealand has world leaders in the biotech industry. They include Dr Sean Simpson, founder of one of New Zealand’s biggest biotech companies, Lanzatech. 

“Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic has completed a flight using fuel produced by Lanzatech made from waste industrial gases. The company says the technology could cut emissions from the aviation sector by 70 per cent. 

“Auckland University academics Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble and Dr Geoff Williams and Professor Rod Dunbar with their company JanSapVax, are partnering with a US drug development company BioMotiv and they have launched a biotech start-up that will research novel cancer vaccines.  

“Otago University professor Indrawati Oey is leading a team of researchers to test edible packaging which could replace common plastic. 

“And finally, Argenta, a New Zealand animal health company, has received US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a drug aimed at a neglected parasitic disease that causes blindness in humans.  

“We hear all the time of the impacts on human, animal and environment with regards to the global issues we are facing. To find these solutions collaboration is key and New Zealand has a great track record of collaboration nationally and internationally,” Dr Champion says.

-Make Lemonade

Kiwis must grasp a far greater awareness of health

Richard Beddie

Richard Beddie

New Zealanders need to grasp a far greater awareness of health in 2019, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie said today.

ExerciseNZ’s recent consumer research report found awareness of health is the number one reason people exercise, which is just under three quarters of all New Zealand exercisers.

“This is quite consistent across all age bands, genders and income levels,” Beddie says.

“There are lots more choice now from traditional gym offerings and everything from $6 a week to $75 for boutique and specialist studios, as well as park, hall or mobile based services. 

“Also, a far greater variety of products are on offer, with everything from yoga to boot camp and 20-minute-high intensity classes to 90-minute meditation sessions.

“We are seeing a greater diversity of individuals interested in exercise. Many gyms have their youngest member in their teens and oldest in the 80s or 90s. 

“Equally, disabilities and or health conditions that would historically be viewed as reasons not to exercise are now being catered for.”

The ExerciseNZ consumer research report said 51 percent of all respondents indicated they had carried out structured exercise in the past 30 days and just under half of these, around 743,600 adults, reported currently having a fitness membership.

Non-participation in structured exercised activities generally increased to a peak among 55 to 64 year olds.

While 18 to 24 year olds are relatively active in structured exercise terms, participation dropped significantly from 25 years of age and to a minority after 45 years of age, Beddie says.

“Exercise is still the #1 new year’s resolution for most Kiwis and is also now the #1 sport in New Zealand with more than half a million participants and growing research confirming the health benefits of activity for all Kiwis.

“The new year is a good time to start doing something regularly; the variety of exercise offerings has never been greater in quality or more diverse in offering including price options and product range,” Beddie says.

 

- Make Lemonade