Health and Fitness: University of Newcastle nutrition trial seeks participants

NEW HABITS: Trial participant Glen Spotts with dietitian Erin Clarke. Mr Spotts said since joining a University of Newcastle trial he has started paying more attention to portion sizes when buying groceries.
NEW HABITS: Trial participant Glen Spotts with dietitian Erin Clarke. Mr Spotts said since joining a University of Newcastle trial he has started paying more attention to portion sizes when buying groceries.

If free fruit and vegetables, a $100 grocery reimbursement and personal dietary advice appeals to you, then you may be just what the University of Newcastle (UON) is looking for.

Dietitian Erin Clarke, from Hunter Medical Research Institute’s cardiovascular research program, is examining whether a diet comprising recommended levels of fruit and vegetables can contribute to weight loss and protect the body from inflammation after high-intensity physical activity.

She is seeking last-minute recruits for the UON nutrition trial, which includes a box of fruit and vegetables at the start of the study.

“As a dietitian I often advise people to eat more fruit and veg – we now want to study the science behind that and look at how healthy eating helps protect the body from inflammation,” Ms Clarke said.

The study runs for a 10-week period with two baseline and two follow-up sessions and one mid-way follow-up session.

Ms Clarke is looking for 10 more male participants, who need to be aged 18 to 45 years with a Body Mass Index of 25-35 (in the overweight to obese classification) and no health issues that would prevent them undertaking high-intensity exercise.

Participants also complete the Australian Eating Survey and receive support with setting goals for healthy eating and weight loss. The aim is to help people shed up to one kilogram per week, or around 10 kilograms over the course of the study.

The trial has been running for six months already and feedback has been positive.

Glen Spotts, a 41-year-old IT programmer, joined the trial last year and is on track to reach his target weight of 83 kilograms after originally weighing in at 95.

“I guess you fall into certain habits over time,” Mr Spotts said. “I haven’t avoided fruit and vegetables but I was gaining weight as I got older. After talking with Erin I began paying more attention to portion sizes when buying other groceries, and I came up with a simple rule to live by ... ‘If it’s not fruit and veg then halve it; if it is, then double it’.”

GOOD EATING: It is recommended adults consume five serves of vegetables and two of fruit each day.

GOOD EATING: It is recommended adults consume five serves of vegetables and two of fruit each day.

Ms Clarke said some of the tips offered through the study included carrying a piece of fruit or a vegetable around with you instead of having a chocolate bar.

She also said all participants to date have improved waist circumference and body-fat percentage through moderating their diet.

“A lot of it is time, finding time to plan meals ahead and fit it into your lifestyle,” she said.

For details on the study, you can email Ms Clarke on Erin.Clarke@uon.edu.au

In another study, being conducted by HMRI and UON, a two-pronged approach is being adopted to lowering cardiovascular disease risk.

Professor Manohar Garg is recruiting for a clinical trial testing the efficacy of plant sterols (found in vegetable fat spreads) in combination with curcumin, which is isolated from the age-old spice turmeric.

The trial needs a further 50 people and needed are men and women aged 18 to 70 with a blood cholesterol level above 5.5mmol/L.

Find out about eligibility via jessica.ferguson@uon.edu.au or 4921 5636.

Sizzling Summer Sessions

The end of summer is nigh and if you have managed to train through the hottest season of the year then you will be looking forward to some cooler sessions ahead.

This month has been devoted to intervals. Everyone is different so you need to find what works for you and your goals. But the benefits of interval work are many and varied. 

Add a hill to make it harder. Enlisting a buddy is another good way to push each other out of your comfort zones and to motivate one another. 

Try this: 1km, 750 metres, 500m, 250m. Have 30 to 90 second resting recoveries between each. Repeat.

Upcoming Fitness Events

Free lunchtime Tai Chi, Civic Park, February 23: Revitalising Newcastle is hosting a range of free health and fitness activities and this week it is a boxing session. The 45-minute class starts at 12.30pm.

Harry’s Challenge Fun Run and Paddle, March 18, Stockton: A charity event for Harry's House, a family retreat for families of children living with cancer. The day involves a 5km fun run and a non-competitive event for water craft.

Water Works Ultra Marathon, Walka Water Works, Oakhampton Heights, March 18: This “ultra” event has 50km and 100km options and also the opportunity for team entries.