Prof Pamela Von Hurst staff profile picture

Contact details +6492136657

Prof Pamela Von Hurst PhD, BSc(Hons), BSc

Associate Professor of Human Nutrition

Doctoral Supervisor
School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition

A human nutritionist with a growing portfolio of research experience including clinical trials and population studies. Interests include vitamin D in health and disease, child health and nutrition, bone, metabolic syndrome and physical activity. Co-director of Massey's Vitamin D Research Centre, Involved in CPD in nutrition for health professionals, and the Massey Nutrition Symposia series.


Contact details

  • Ph: 43657
    Location: Level 3, Sir Neil Waters Extension
    Campus: Albany


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Massey University (2010)
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) - Massey University (2006)
  • Bachelor of Science - Massey University (2005)

Certifications and Registrations

  • Licence, Supervisor, Massey University

Research Expertise

Research Interests

I am interested in the prevention of chronic disease by achieving optimum nutrition and lifestyle, including physical activity. My main platform of research currently is investigating the role of vitamin D in health and disease. I am also interested in the interaction of genes and nutrients, and investigating the role of genetic differences in determining response to nutritional deficiencies.

The health and nutrition of children is a primary interest, especially increasing knowledge and self-efficacy, and changing behaviours.


Health and Well-being

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Clinical and Sports Nutrition (111101): Dietetics and Nutrigenomics (111102): Medical And Health Sciences (110000): Nutrition and Dietetics (111100): Public Nutrition Intervention (111104)


Research design

Clinical trial design and management

Event management


Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 4 13
Team Member 2 0

Current Projects

Project Title: Optimising cognitive function: the role of dietary and lifestyle patterns

The New Zealand population is ageing, with 21% of the population expected to be over 65 years by 2031. Age related cognitive decline is one of the most serious health issues faced as the world’s population ages. The preservation of optimal cognitive function for as long as possible is critical in ensuring successful ageing. The role of dietary and lifestyle factors are increasingly recognised in preventing cognitive decline. However, most studies have focussed on single nutrients (eg. omega 3) and foods (eg. fish). This has several limitations as people do not consume foods and nutrients in isolation but as combinations of foods and nutrients. In contrast, ‘dietary patterns’ (a relatively new approach to assessing dietary intake) capture the overall food matrix and complexity of the diet. Dietary patterns have been linked with a range of health outcomes, and more recently cognitive function in research from overseas. Few studies however have considered dietary patterns in the context of genetics and other lifestyle factors (eg. physical activity). Dietary patterns differ between countries therefore it is critical to gain an understanding of older New Zealander’s dietary patterns and their impact on cognition and metabolic health in the context of genetic and lifestyle factors.
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Date Range: 2017 - 2021

Funding Body: Health Research Council of New Zealand

Project Team:

Completed Projects

Project Title: Vitamin D deficiency risk and respiratory/allergy diseases in NZ 1 - 4 year olds

As more is learned about the possible health consequences of vitamin D deficiency, we are also discovering that many New Zealand children have less than adequate levels of the "sunshine vitamin". Parents and health professionals are equally confused by the variety of messages they are receiving. Risk of deficiency in children is probably greater if they attend day care or pre-school, live in the south of the country, or have dark skin. Furthermore, evidence suggests there is a relationship between vitamin D status and history of respiratory illness and allergy. The aim of this study is to measure the vitamin D levels of pre-schoolers from around New Zealand and to gather information on the predictors of deficiency with the objective of creating an easily used risk assessment tool for health professionals in the community. It will also enable investigation of the potential link with respiratory illness and allergy.
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Date Range: 2011 - 2014

Funding Body: Health Research Council of New Zealand

Project Team:

Teaching and Supervision

Courses Coordinated

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Main Supervisor 3 4
Co-supervisor 8 1

Current Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • Rio Jupiterwala - Doctor of Philosophy
    Nutrient intake and dietary patterns of young New Zealand children
  • Maria Casale - Doctor of Philosophy
    First Foods for Infants
  • Cassie Slade - Doctor of Philosophy
    Investigating the effect of nutrition on osteoarthritis of the knee

Co-supervisor of:

  • Kimberley Brown - Doctor of Philosophy
    The New Zealand First Foods study: Dietary patterns of New Zealand infants
  • Emily Jones - Doctor of Philosophy
    Learning to eat project What is the effect of early feeding practices on oral motor skills in typically developing children?
  • Maryam Abshirini - Doctor of Philosophy
    Effect of New Zealand Greenshell Mussel on Osteoarthritis Biomarkers and Inflammation in Healthy Postmenopausal Women
  • Anne Nadine Hiol - Doctor of Philosophy
    Understanding protein intake in older adults living in New Zealand
  • Jeanette Rapson - Doctor of Philosophy
    Vegetables as a first foods for babies
  • Karen Mumme - Doctor of Philosophy
    The REACH study - Researching Eating Activity and Cognitive Health
  • Wen Xin Lim - Doctor of Philosophy
    Stopping the progression towards type 2 diabetes mellitus: investigating the hypoglycaemic (glucose-lowering) potential of antioxidant-rich plant extr
  • Nicola Martin - Doctor of Philosophy
    Nutritional health of female recruits completing basic combat training in the New Zealand Army

Completed Doctoral Supervision

Main Supervisor of:

  • 2020 - Maryam Delshad Siyahkaly - Doctor of Philosophy
    Bone Health and Fracture Risk Factors in Children Living in New Zealand
  • 2019 - Hajar Mazahery - Doctor of Philosophy
    The Role of Vitamin D and Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • 2017 - Michelle Ingram - Doctor of Philosophy
    "I don't want to manage it, I want to get rid of it": A narrative analysis of living with chronic plaque psoriasis, and an investigation into vitamin D as a treatment.
  • 2015 - Carolyn Cairncross - Doctor of Philosophy
    Vitamin D and Preschool Children - predictors of status and relationship with allergic and respiratory diseases in New Zealand

Co-supervisor of:

  • 2017 - Merrin Quilter - Doctor of Philosophy
    An Investigation into the link between vitamin D status, erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular risk factors in ageing men in New Zealand

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