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Improving health by taking probiotics and cereals

  • Please note: We are no longer recruiting for this study.
  • Analysis is ongoing, watch this space for results in the future


Written information

The promo

The details

What is the study about?

What are blood sugars, probiotics, and why do I need to eat cereal?

How can the study help me, and is it safe?

Study visits

Are there any optional parts to the study and how do I get in touch?


Many New Zealanders have levels of sugars in their blood that are slightly higher than normal (this is called pre-diabetes). If this applies to you, then helping your body process sugar better could help you stay well and prevent health problems.

There is now exciting research showing the microbes in our gut affect our health in many ways, including how our bodies process foods, sugars, and fats and influencing mood and stress levels.

We can change our gut microbes by taking supplements of probiotics (helpful bacteria) and enriched cereals (which feed the probiotics).

We want to see if taking probiotics and enriched cereals (oats and corn) can help

  • Prevent diabetes
  • Improve sugar and fat (lipids) in the blood
  • Reduce weight
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve emotional well-being

What is pre-diabetes?

Blood Sugar

1 in 4 adults in New Zealand have blood sugars that are slightly higher than normal, but these levels are NOT high enough to be diabetes. This is called pre-diabetes and when this happens, you don't feel sick or any different from normal.

Who is more likely to have pre-diabetes?

You are more likely to have pre-diabetes if you

  • Are overweight or obese Click here to see if you are overweight or obese
  • Have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes
  • Are Māori, Pacific or South Asian (Indian, including Fijian Indian, Sri Lankan, Afghani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Pakistani, Tibetan)
  • Have ever been found to have high blood glucose (eg in a health examination, during an illness)
  • Had diabetes in pregnancy

Click here to take the one minute 'Pre-diabetes risk test'

Who can be involved in this study?

You may have received a letter from your GP telling you about the study, this means they think you could be involved.

If you haven't received a letter you can still join if you

  • Have blood sugars which are slightly higher than normal (pre-diabetes)
  • Live in the greater Wellington region, including the Hutt, Kapiti and Porirua
  • Are aged 18 to 80
  • Have a GP (or are enrolled with a primary health care provider)

You must not

  • Already have diabetes
  • Be taking metformin
  • Be pregnant (or planning a pregnancy in the next year) or breastfeeding

What does the study involve?

  • Four study visits over 9 months
  • For the first 6 months
    • Taking a study capsule (either a probiotic or dummy capsule) every day
    • Eating an oat or corn based cereal every day
  • Then 3 months, of not doing anything special (no more capsules or cereals provided)
  • There's more information in the video called “Study visits”
  • Visits may be at the University of Otago, Wellington, Newtown -beside the hospital (click here for a map) or possibly at a place closer to you.

Ethics & Funding

This study has received ethics approval through the Multi-region Ethic Committee and is primarily funded by the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, the Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

Who are we?

This research is run by a group of experienced researchers at the University of Otago and Capital and Coast District Health Board

Lead investigators:Assoc. Prof Jeremy Krebs, Professor Julian Crane

Study staff you may meet
Main study: Christine Barthow, Fiona Hood, Penny Brander, Angela McCadden, Alison Jenkins
Interviews / focus groups: Jo Hilder, Assoc Prof Eileen McKinlay

F4H Team 2017-07

From back left
Professor Mark Weatherall,   Dr Mark Huthwaite,  Assoc Prof Jeremy Krebs,  Professor Julian Crane,  Dr Kristin Wickens,  Dr Ben Gray,  Fiona Hood,  Christine Barthow,  Dr Cristina Cleghorn,  Jo Hilder,  Assoc Prof Eileen McKinlay,  Professor Sue Pullon

Absent: Dr Amber Parry-Strong, Penny Brander, Alison Jenkins, Joelle Williamson

Contact the Food 4 Health team

Mailing address
PO Box 7343
Wellington South
Wellington 6242
New Zealand

Physical address
Food 4 Health
University of Otago, Wellington
23A Mein Street
Wellington 6021
New Zealand
Click here for a map

Mob: +64 21 366 348 (021 food 4 U)

WN-Food 4 Health Text Header 17 thumbnail

Mob: +64 21 366 348
(021 food 4 U)

PO Box 7343
Wellington South
Wellington 6242

Food 4 Health
University of Otago, Wellington
23A Mein Street
Wellington 6021

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