By Vanessa Beasley

Curtin University has been awarded more than one million dollars in Federal Government funding for a research study to improve the access to a novel quality diet assessment and treatment app for patients living with obesity.

The project, which will be led by Professor Deborah Kerr from the Curtin School of Public Health, was successful in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) – 2020 Primary Health Care Research Grant Opportunity.

The grant will fund the trial of a mobile phone app, which will allow patients to upload photographs of their meals for dietitians to review and then provide tailored, personal feedback over a year.

Curtin’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran commended Professor Kerr and her team on their funding success.

“This project will build on the capacity of general practitioners and dietitians to work together in delivering effective weight management services in primary care and ultimately improve patient outcomes,” Professor Moran said.

“With this funding, the research team will aim to improve the referral system from doctors to dietitians and provide them with access to a new digital platform for dietary assessment.”

Research project lead, Professor Deborah Kerr said, with one third of Australians living with obesity, it was vital to address the gap in weight management care.

“We have developed cutting-edge technology that this funding will allow us to trial and then measure its effectiveness for patients,” Professor Kerr said.

“We hope that, if successful, this model of care will build capacity for GPs and dietitians to deliver effective weight management advice using the latest technology, thereby increasing reach and results.”

This research is led by Curtin University in conjunction with East Metropolitan Health Service and includes a range of international medical professionals and professors from The University of Newcastle, Purdue University, University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Western Australia, University of Oxford and the Department of Health WA.

The project is titled, Improving diet quality of patients living with obesity: A randomised controlled trial to build effective dietetic service delivery in a primary health care setting.