Justine Horne, and Paige Colley successfully defended their PhD theses

The HEAL would like to congratulate Dr. Justine Horne and Dr. Paige Colley who successfully defended their theses under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland in 2020. 

The Nutrigenomics, Overweight/Obesity, and Weight Management Trial (The NOW Trial) 

Justine Horne successfully defended her PhD thesis titled The NOW Trial: A Pragmatic Randomized Controlled Trial of Personalized, Genetic-Based Lifestyle AdviceJustine completed her PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland and Dr. Janet Madill. During her studies, she investigated the impact of providing personalized, genetic-based lifestyle information and advice on dietary intake, weight, and body fat.  

To study this, people were randomly assigned to receive either standard advice for weight management or genetic-based advice for weight managementPeople participated in a 12-month intervention, with 3, 6 and 12 months follow up. Overall, people who received the genetic-based advice experienced a decrease in body fat, more so than the people who received the standard advice after 3 and 6 months. After 12 months, there was no significant difference in body fat between these two groups. When we looked at changes to their nutritional intake, people who received the genetic-based advice significantly reduced their overall intake of dietary fat after 12 months, whereas those who received the standard advice did not. Additionally, after 12 months, people who received the genetic-based advice had better adherence to the recommendations for total fat and saturated fat consumption compared to those who received the standard intervention.  

Overall, nutrigenomics interventions can motivate long-term (12-month) dietary changes and can lead to improvements in body fat over the short-term (3-month) and moderate-term (6-month) to a greater extent than standard advice. 

The Ontario Student Nutrition Program 

Paige Colley successfully defended her PhD thesis titled Investigating Elementary School Food Programs: Impacts on Child Knowledge and Dietary BehavioursPaige completed her PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Jason Gilliland and Dr. Linda Miller. During her studies, she applied a mixed-method approach to investigate the impacts of school food programming on child nutrition. This program delivered free, locally-sourced food to schools in an effort to improve child nutrition. A food literacy resource was also designed and delivered to families as part of this food program. 

Measurements of children’s food-related knowledge revealed somewhat low total knowledge scores (63.5% correct responses). Participants demonstrated some nutrition competency and food skills; although, awareness of food guide recommendations and local foods were limited. Several sociodemographic factors, including female gender, high household income, and rurality were associated with higher knowledge scores.  

An evaluation of a food literacy resource involving eight weeks of fruit and vegetable information sheets, maps of local farms, parent and child-friendly recipes, and weekly educational games and activities, presented predominantly non-significant effects on children’s total food-related knowledge.  

Results from child focus groups indicated that the program’s food provision curbed hunger, promoted greater fruit and vegetable consumption at school and home, and enabled children to try various healthy foods. Participants recommended adding educational activities, a greater variety of foods, and increased child involvement with the program. 

This dissertation identified current strengths and gaps in children’s food-related knowledge. Results from this dissertation can be used to improve current practices and develop innovative programs to promote healthy dietary habits among children. 

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