Key outcomes since 2002

Since 2002, a wide range of research projects have generated:

- Up-to-date nutrient composition data for Australian beef, lamb and goat meats which is available from FSANZ’s NUTTAB

- Reports and published papers on consumption patterns, main meal preparation practices and contribution to nutrient intake

- Published papers in peer-reviewed journals on the relationship between diet, iron and zinc status and health outcomes, particularly in vulnerable groups such as young women, infants and toddlers

- Published papers on dietary strategies for managing weight and other risk factors of obesity-related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.

Completed projects since 2012

Final reports which are prepared as manuscripts and submitted to peer-reviewed journals for publication are not published on the MLA website. Reports are available upon request from vdroulez@mla.com.au

1. Project title: EPOCH – Early Prevention of Obesity in Children Collaboration

Project code: D.MHN.0700

Funding mechanism: Industry

Provider: Queensland University of Technology

Date completed: 1.5.10 – 30.7.13

Objective: To assess the effectiveness of dietary advice aimed at establishing protective feeding practices in early childhood to prevent childhood obesity by drawing from the results of four Randomised Controlled Trials in a meta-analysis.

Outcome:  Protective feeding practices including anticipatory guidance when introducing solids to infants was shown to contribute to healthy weight gain. Findings have been widely published and presented at conferences. Whilst not directly related to red meat intake, these findings inform the development of nutrition education material which MLA develops to support the consumption of beef and lamb in a healthy, balanced diet.  


2. Project title: Dietary intake in children 6-24 months: determinants and correlates of red meat intake

Project code: D.MHN.0704

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Queensland University of Technology

Date completed: 1.5.10 – 1.7.12

Objective: To investigate the patterns of red meat consumption in infants and toddlers at various ages, and the associations with diet quality, child feeding behaviours and maternal feeding styles drawing from baseline dietary intake data collected from studies involved in EPOCH.

Outcomes: Red meat consumers had greater diet diversity than non-consumers, eating more breads, cereals, fruit, vegetables and dairy foods than non-consumers. Red meat consumption was so associated with increased vegetable consumption. Of concern, the findings suggest introduction of red meat tends to be delayed and intakes are low in amount and frequency. Publication of findings has been delayed due to maternity leave but was supplied to NHMRC during the review of the Infant Feeding Guidelines. Final report available upon request.


3. Project title: Dietary patterns of pre-school children: association with nutritional status and BMI

Project code: D.MHN.0709

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Women’s and Children’s Health Research Institute, Adelaide

Date completed: 1.5.12 – 31.9.12

Objective: To determine the association between dietary patterns, intakes of macronutrients and key micronutrients and micronutrient status as well as risk of overweight and obesity in preschool children aged 1-5 years.

Outcomes: Three dietary patterns were identified, each distinguished by a higher intake of certain foods: Home-made (grains, fruit, vegetables, red meat); Processed (snack foods, beverages, biscuits and cakes); and Alternative (eggs, fish, vegetable-based dishes, low fat dairy foods, polyunsaturated margarine). Intake of iron and zinc was higher in the Home-Made than in the Processed dietary pattern but there was no association with iron and zinc status for either dietary pattern. Manuscript has been submitted for publication. Final report available upon request.


4. Project title: Blood Donor

Project code: D.MHN.0601

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Deakin University

Date completed: $1.5.10-28.2.12

Objective: To assess the impact of dietary intake and physical activity on iron and zinc status in women blood donors (aged 20 to 40 years).

Outcome: There was a positive correlation between zinc and iron status. As blood donation has a significant impact on iron status and due to limitations in the dietary assessment tool, a relationship between dietary iron and zinc intake, including red meat intake, and iron and zinc status was not detected. Recommendations for improving dietary assessment tools for measuring dietary iron and zinc intake are provided. Final report attached.


5. Project title: Meat consumption and CRC

Project code: D.MHN.2014

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Exponent Inc, USA

Date completed: 22.6.12-30.10.12

Objective: To conduct a meta-analysis of the available evidence on red meat consumption and colorectal cancer risk to better understand risk for different levels of red meat consumption and differences in diet and lifestyle risk factors.  

Outcome: Data from 27 prospective cohort studies was analysed and showed heterogeneity between gender and different countries; lack of dose response between actual intakes of red meat and risk of colorectal; weakening of risk over time, possibly due to better control of confounding variables; and a strong correlation between red meat consumption and diet and lifestyle risk factors in some populations making it impossible to disentangle the effect of red meat from other diet and lifestyle risk factors. Publication in peer-reviewed journal pending and abstract accepted for presentation at Experimental Biology Conference in USA.


6. Project title: Human Microbiota and Health

Project code: D.MHN.2015

Funding mechanism:

Providers: CSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences

Date completed: 22.6.12 – 20.12.12

Objective: To gain an understanding of emerging research on the role of the human gut

microbiota in predicting health outcomes and identify areas for further research required to develop holistic diet and lifestyle strategies for improving gut health.

Outcome: Whilst there is some evidence that diet plays a role in changing the composition of gut microbiota, further research is required to better understand the health consequences of these changes to determine the best diet and lifestyle approach for optimising gut health. Dietary approaches may need to be individualized due to differences in gut microbiota between individuals and available research suggests the variety of dietary fibre in the diet may be a critical variable. Manuscript has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.


7. Project title: Elderly muscle health

Project code: D.MHN.0030

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Deakin University

Date completed: 1.7.08-1.7.11

Objective: To investigate whether increasing protein intake to 1.3g/kg/day through consumption of red meat on most days of the week, when combined with regular exercise, in a vitamin D replate state, can reduce markers of inflammation and enhance muscle mass, strength, power and functionl performance in older women compared to those undertaking resistance exercise alone.

Outcome: When compared to women in the control group, those on the trimmed red meat diet had an 18 per cent greater increase in muscle strength and gained an additional 0.5 kg of muscle mass. They were also found to have a 10 per cent greater increase in serum IGF-1 and a 16 per cent reduction in a pro-inflammatory marker that has been linked to muscle loss and other chronic diseases. Findings have been presented at several conferences and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


8. Project title: Review of protein requirements in the elderly

Project code: D.MHN.0302

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Deakin University

Date completed: 25.2.13 – 30.6.13

Objective: To review the literature to gain a better understanding of protein requirements in the elderly in relation to health outcomes (rather than nitrogen balance), particularly in relation to muscle and bone health in older people undertaking progressive resistance training.

Outcome: The review identified health outcomes that should be considered when considering protein requirements. In relation to muscle and bone health, the findings suggest around 1.3g/kg/day of protein, preferably distributed in meals providing 20-30g protein throughout the day. Manuscripts are being prepared for publication following presentation at the IUNS conference in 2013. 


9. Project title: Green House Gas (GHG) Emissions and the Australian diet

Project code: D.MHN.0608

Funding mechanism: Industry

Providers: CSIRO

Date completed: 1.5.12-1.3.13

Objective: To determine the impact of alternative dietary strategies on climate change mitigation and the nutritional quality of the Australian diet.

Outcome: Three dietary strategies were compared: Current Australian diet; the Total diet and the Foundation Diet, recommended in the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The greatest reduction in diet-related GHG emissions was achieved with the Australian Dietary Guidelines dietary patterns. The main dietary change required to meet dietary guidelines was a reduction in non-core foods which accounted for 27% of diet-related GHG emissions. Although red meat made the greatest contribution to GHG emissions, since average intakes are consistent with the Australian dietary guidelines, no change in intake was required to meet dietary recommendations.


10.  Project title: Knowledge of Australian agriculture

Project code: D.MHN.0604

Funding mechanism: Industry

Providers: Deakin University

Date completed: 15.5.11 – 30.6.12

Objective: To determine what information about agriculture is required by consumers and dietitians to inform food choices influenced by sustainability concerns.

Outcome: Two surveys were conducted with consumers and dietitians to assess their knowledge of agriculture. The findings suggest that knowledge of agriculture is relatively poor despite strong support for farmers. It suggests that communications about agriculture will be most meaningful to both consumers and dietitians by relating it to healthy food and dietary choices. Findings have been published in the Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 2014; 9:1, 64-80 and American Journal of Environmental Protection 2014; 3(1): 10-18. 


11.  Project title: Cooking for Health

Project code: D.MHN.0605

Funding mechanism: Industry

Providers: Deakin University (with collection of data by the Clever Stuff and insights to interpret analysis by Ipsos)

Date completed: 15.5.11 – 30.6.12

Objective: To gain an understanding of main meal preparation skills and resources required for healthy eating.

Outcomes: The Cooking for Health report was produced by MLA and Deakin University is preparing several manuscripts for publication. The findings have also been reported at several conferences targeting nutrition professionals and home economics. They have also informed the development of MLA’s healthy eating nutrition education resources.


12.  Project title: Expression of cellular zinc transporters in human cheek cells

Project code: D.MHN.0606

Funding mechanism:

Providers: University of Sydney

Date completed: 1.5.12-30.6.13

Objective: To determine whether zinc transporter expression in cheek cells is a more practical biomarker of zinc status than current measures used to explore the impact of dietary zinc intake on zinc status.

Outcome: The experiments were unable to successfully quantify zinc transporter expression and further research is required to optimise measurement protocols.  Final report attached.


13.  Project title: A web-based dietary assessment method for determining bioavailable dietary iron and zinc intake.

Project code: D.MHN.0607

Funding mechanism:

Providers: Otago University

Date completed: 1.5.12-10.1.14

Objective: To compile a nutrient composition database of foods required to calculate the amount of iron and zinc absorbed from a meal.

Outcome: This tool is ready to be validated and will then be available for use by researchers interested in understanding the relationship between dietary choices and iron and zinc status. Final report attached.


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