Monday, 5 December 2016

Shift workers’ health to benefit from heart disease grant

Associate Professor Bonham
A leading Monash University nutrition scientist has received the 2016 National Heart Foundation Ross Hohnen Award for Research Excellence for her project to improve heart health in shift workers.   

The award recognises Associate Professor Maxine Bonham’s outstanding and innovative Vanguard Grant application, with the award providing $10,000 on top of the $65,000 grant.

Associate Professor Bonham’s research aims to improve shift workers’ heart health through  development of a dietary strategy that modifies the timing and amount of food consumed at night.

“Shift work is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) probably as a result of the disruption to normal circadian rhythms experienced by people who are awake overnight and sleep during the day," said Associate Professor Bonham.

“Eating throughout the night contributes significantly to this risk by forcing the body to actively process food at night when usually we are asleep.”

“The same meal consumed at night rather than during the day results in higher circulating blood lipids and glucose which are both independent risk factors for CVD.   This becomes more pertinent when we consider that shift workers eat a substantial proportion of their daily energy intake during this overnight period.”

Associate Professor Bonham’s study aims to show that modifying the timing and amount of food consumed at night in a shift working population will impact favourably on blood lipids and glucose in the short term with long term benefits in obesity prevention.

 “Current dietary recommendations may not be directly applicable to shift workers owing to the impact of circadian misalignment on physiological and metabolic processes.”

“Our research will produce evidence to inform guidelines promoting cardiovascular health for shift workers,” said Associate Professor Bonham.

Associate Professor Bonham said she is honoured to have been awarded both a Vanguard grant and the Ross Hohnen award for research excellence and acknowledges her colleagues and collaborators Dr Catherine Huggins, Dr Sletten, Dr Murgia and Associate Professor Young.

Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) researchers Dr Nadine Andrew and Associate Professor Lisa Moran also received competitive Heart Foundation research grants this round.

Dr Andrew from the Stroke and Ageing Research Group was awarded a Vanguard Grant for her project to develop standardized methods for setting patient centred goals in stroke while Associate Professor Moran’s (Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation) Future Leader Fellowship helps enable her research into optimizing weight management in women of reproductive age.

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