Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon

Contact Details

+64 21 479 556
Research Professor, Head of Department and Karitane Fellow in Early Childhood Obesity
Department of Medicine (Dunedin)
BSc(Hons) PhD
Research summary
How sleep, diet, and activity affect weight management in children
  • 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


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.


Gontijo de Castro, T., Milne, B., Cavadino, A., Pozza Santos, L., Taylor, R., Te Morenga, L., Swinburn, B., on behalf of Growth Monitoring Aotearoa Team. (2024). Integrated dataset on growth indicators for 0-19-year-olds in Aotearoa New Zealand: Findings from a scoping study. Obesity Reviews, 25(Suppl. 1), P447. doi: 10.1111/obr.13788 Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Haszard, J. J., Heath, A.-L. M., Taylor, R. W., Bruckner, B., Katiforis, I., McLean, N. H., Cox, A. M., Brown, K. J., Casale, M., Jupiterwala, R., Diana, A., Beck, K. L., Conlon, C. A., von Hurst, P. R., & Daniels, L. (2024). Equations to estimate human milk intake in infants aged 7 to 10 months: Prediction models from a cross-sectional study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.ajcnut.2024.04.009 Journal - Research Article

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

Jørgensen, R. M., Østergaard, J. N., Fogh, M., Taylor, R. W., Støvring, H., & Bruun, J. M. (2024). Does declining participation in a community-based lifestyle intervention for children with obesity, predict long-term weight gain? Obesity Facts, 17(Suppl. 1), (pp. 300). doi: 10.1159/000538577 Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Back to top