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Contact Details

Phone
+64 21 479 556
Email
rachael.taylor@otago.ac.nz
Position
Research Professor, Head of Department and Karitane Fellow in Early Childhood Obesity
Department
Department of Medicine (Dunedin)
Qualifications
BSc(Hons) PhD
Research summary
How sleep, diet, and activity affect weight management in children
Memberships
  • Secretary and Executive Member, Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society
  • Associated Editor, Pediatric Obesity
  • Expert Advisory Group on Childhood Obesity, Ministry of Health
  • Research-only representative, Divisional Research Committee

Research

Professor Rachael Taylor is the Karitane Fellow in Early Childhood Obesity. Rachael is also Head of the Department of Medicine and Director of the Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre, one of the University's flagship Research Centres.

"Developing and trialing different ways of tackling the worldwide problem of childhood obesity is a fascinating area to work in. New ideas and initiatives are constantly being developed which makes for an interesting and continually evolving area of science."

Rachael is interested in determining how sleep, diet, and physical activity can be manipulated to favourably affect body weight throughout the life cycle but particularly in childhood. Her work consists of observational studies and randomised controlled trials.

Current research includes:

  • Sleep: Validating new techniques for the measurement of 24-hour activity profiles in children, and mechanistic studies determining how inadequate sleep influences eating and activity behaviour during growth
  • BLISS (Baby-Led Introduction to Solids): To determine if using foods that infants can feed themselves encourages self-regulation of energy intake, and prevents the development of overweight (without detrimental effects on iron status and growth). 200 infants are participating in a two-year trial
  • Play: A study of 900 Otago and Auckland children which investigates whether changing school play space to encourage children to experience and manage risk affects physical activity, body weight, and bullying
  • POI (Prevention of Overweight in Infancy): A two-year trial investigating whether additional guidance around breastfeeding, food, activity and sleep can impact on the rate of weight gain in 800 infants. These participants will now be followed up to 5 years of age.

Publications

Haszard, J. J., Jackson, R., Morrison, S., Meredith-Jones, K. A., Galland, B. C., Beebe, D. W., Elder, D. E., & Taylor, R. W. (2024). Losing sleep influences dietary intake in children: A longitudinal compositional analysis of a randomised crossover trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, 21(1), 61. doi: 10.1186/s12966-024-01607-5 Journal - Research Article

McLean, N. H., Haszard, J. J., Daniels, L., Taylor, R. W., Wheeler, B. J., Conlon, C. A., … Katiforis, I., … Cox, A. M., … Bruckner, B., … Heath, A.-L. M. (2024). Baby food pouches, baby-led weaning, and iron status in New Zealand infants: An observational study. Nutrients, 16, 1494. doi: 10.3390/nu16101494 Journal - Research Article

Haszard, J. J., Heath, A.-L. M., Katiforis, I., Fleming, E. A., & Taylor, R. W. (2024). Contribution of infant food pouches and other commercial infant foods to the diets of infants: A cross-sectional study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 119, 1238-1247. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2024.02.030 Journal - Research Article

Meredith-Jones, K. A., Haszard, J. J., Graham-DeMello, A., Campbell, A., Stewart, T., Galland, B. C., Cox, A., Kennedy, G., … Taylor, R. W. (2024). Validation of actigraphy sleep metrics in children aged 8 to 16 years: Considerations for device type, placement and algorithms. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, 21, 40. doi: 10.1186/s12966-024-01590-x Journal - Research Article

Bell, L., Manson, A., Zarnowiecki, D., Tan, S. N., Byrne, R., Taylor, R., … Golley, R. (2024). Development and validation of a short dietary questionnaire for assessing obesity-related dietary behaviours in young children. Maternal & Child Nutrition, e13613. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/mcn.13613 Journal - Research Article

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