Health and wellbeing

Massey is committed to promoting health and wellbeing, not just supporting and managing illness or disease. Our expertise in this field spans a range of disciplines and specialities including food and nutrition, sport and exercise, nursing and Maori and Pasifika health.

With a rapidly increasing population and a parallel rise in non-communicable disease one of the big challenges of the age is the provision of cost effective healthcare.  Massey believes an interdisciplinary approach is the best way to understand the causes of, and influences upon the health challenges of the 21st century so that we work collaboratively to provide inexpensive, practical solutions with global application.


One key aspect of our research is the link between food, nutrition and health. Nutrition remains vital to good health, especially in the developing world. Massey researchers have developed an innovative technology, known as ProBioLife, with probiotics (supplements containing live bacteria) delivered in food stored at room temperature.  Nutritional super foods can therefore be delivered without chilling. Our work has led to a partnership with international development organisation Medicine Mondiale, creating foods with the potential to improve global nutrition and reduce infant mortality rates.

Obesity and related conditions contribute to the growing burden of non-communicable factors affecting health and well-being. Massey researchers were the first to show the importance of interactions between nutrition before and after birth, and the impact of parental eating behaviours and appetite control on the long-term health outcomes for a child.


Massey is also a leader in research into the causes and preventability of asthma, a condition affecting one in four New Zealand children. We were among the first to show how pre-natal exposure to farm animals can protect against asthma. This study showed how asthma challenged days could be reduced by simple remedial actions in the home and work place achieving outcomes equal to those normally associated with expensive new pharmaceutics. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently adopted Massey’s findings. An innovative new project is investigating whether unpasteurised milk protects children from developing asthma and other allergies.   

Our fast-growing ageing population presents us with major health and economic issues. By 2040, one in four Kiwis will be aged over 65 and numbers over 80 will have doubled. Our research has shown that fish oil-derived omega-3 fatty acids can help to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, especially as people age. Massey was the first to provide direct evidence that omega-3 affects how humans metabolise blood sugar and dietary fat. Our researchers have also developed a process allowing high doses of omega-3 to be added to food products without adding a fishy smell and aftertaste. This technology has already been commercialized and will be added to foods from bread to ice cream.

Health and wellbeing research stories

Rangahau 2016

Healthier classrooms for Kiwi kids

Many New Zealand primary-school children struggle through the winter months with respiratory and infectious illnesses. Could improving air quality in classrooms help their health?

Alcohol policies

Alcohol use has a major impact on society, here and overseas. Better understanding of patterns of consumption can lead to more effective alcohol control policies.

The evolution of cancer

Sometimes seen as a disease of modernity, cancer’s origins lie deep in the very earliest stages of evolution, the result of a war between conflict and cooperation.

Fighting a dangerous disorder

The use of anaesthesia is regarded as one of the safest medical interventions, however, major complications—even death—can occur.

A good gut feeling

The diversity of the bacteria in our gut could be a vital marker for our overall health, according to new Massey research.

Helping youth make a successful transition

A unique collaboration between research, social service agencies and government departments is transforming the delivery of social services to New Zealand teens.

Is your pet making you sick?

Basic hygiene around household pets could avoid the spread of multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

Unravelling the secrets of diabetes

Most funding related to diabetes now goes into its management, but new research could help predict and prevent the development of the condition and its complications.

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