The Heart Foundation this week announced $14.4 million in funding for 60 projects investigating the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and related conditions, including two from Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation’s Obesity Prevention research domain.

Associate Professor Adrian Cameron, an Associate Director of the Institute’s Global Obesity Centre, was awarded one of 15 Future Leader Fellowships and will continue his work in supporting healthy supermarket interventions, an area he has been researching in for the past ten years.

A/Prof Cameron said the Fellowship would assist in generating the research evidence required to support interventions by retailers, policy makers, or public health advocates to create healthier supermarkets.

“This work targets the key marketing strategies used to influence purchasing decisions and includes real world trials to test the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions, and their potential to be translated at scale, as well as monitoring of marketing practices and policies by supermarket retailers,” he explained.

Associate Professor Adrian Cameron: Supporting healthy supermarket interventions

Dr Laura Alston, recently named one of the World Heart Federation’s Future Leaders for her work in rural heart health, was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her research into rural food environments, the role of health services in improving rural health and preventing diet-related chronic diseases like heart diseases.

Dr Alston, who lives in Victoria’s Western District, said it was “amazing” to receive national recognition and support for research happening in rural areas and that receiving funding from the Heart Foundation was also a big achievement for all who have supported her, including the Institute for Health Transformation’s Global Obesity Centre, Deakin Rural Health, The Western Alliance and Colac Area Health.

Dr Alston’s project, ‘Reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases for future rural dwelling Australians’ is one of 16 Heart Foundation Postdoctoral fellowships funded across Australia for 2020.
She said global research evidence showed that much of the burden of disease is related to changes in diet, and therefore could be preventable.

“In rural areas, we experience a higher burden from diet-related disease like cardiovascular diseases but there is not a lot of research on regional communities like those found in the Colac Otway Shire. In our current environment, it’s getting harder to make healthy choices and a lot of people are struggling to achieve the best health they can.

“I think there’s a lot we could do about it, but we need to understand the best ways to address to the issue and building research evidence will help achieve this,” she said.

“If we don’t act now, the preventable burden of disease will increase and it scares me to think that will be the case.”

Dr Laura Alston: Reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases for future rural dwelling Australians