Emerging Health Researcher Award

Monday, 26 August 2019

Dr Myles Young from the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition has been named a finalist in the Bupa Foundation’s Emerging Health Researcher Award for 2019, in recognition of his work to improve men’s physical and mental health.

Jim Todhunter with Dr Myles Young.

Just four years post PhD, Dr Young has developed and tested a range of innovative behavioural weight loss programs designed to address alarming men’s health trends in Australia. Currently more than 70 percent of Australian men are overweight or obese and roughly 80 percent of men are not meeting national physical activity guidelines. Less than 5 percent eat the recommend amount of fruits and vegetables. Men are also much less likely to engage in weight loss research and programs.

His PhD focused on the SHED-IT Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance programs, which are online, gender-tailored interventions that teach men how to lose weight without requiring face-to-face counselling.

In the first month of recruitment, more than 500 men applied for the three-month SHED-IT program and the results were impressive. Participants maintained meaningful weight loss up to three years after the program and displayed improvements in key behaviours such as physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, and reduced alcohol consumption. The long-term weight loss outcomes were on par with other trials where participants attended up to 32 in-person sessions over one to two years.

Dr Young also helped design and deliver Workplace POWER, an adaptation of SHED-IT for men employed in male-dominated industries. In partnership with major organisations like Diabetes Western Australia, Daracon, and QLD police, SHED-IT and Workplace POWER are now being adopted by men and workplaces across Australia.

To date, more than 3,500 people have participated in the men’s health programs he has co-created.

Dr Young has achieved an excellent research track record, securing $5.8M of research income as a named investigator, and more than $437,000 in competitive grants and fellowships as the lead investigator. In 2018, he received a prestigious National Heart Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship to adapt the SHED-IT program for men with low mood. To date, he has won 17 academic awards, including Best Early-Career Presentation in Health Promotion at the 2018 Sports Medicine Australia Conference.

Dr Young’s research is published in highly ranked journals, and in the past five years he has been the fifth most prolific author internationally on men’s weight loss, according to Web of Science.

Dr Young was nominated for this national award by Professor Philip Morgan, co-director of the University’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

“Myles is an incredible research talent who will continue to develop as a rising star in his field,” Professor Morgan said.

“In addition to his research achievements, he has become a confident leader and regularly seeks opportunities to support the next generation of researchers.”

Annette Schmiede, Bupa Health Foundation Executive Leader, said “Forging a career as a health and medical researcher can be challenging. Not only because of limited funding for research, but also the dedication required to solve complex health problems which can take years to unravel.

The Bupa Health Foundation is proud to invest in Australian researchers as they navigate this critical career stage and embark on their journey to become tomorrow’s leaders who will be driving improvements to health and health care that will benefit all of society”.

As a finalist, Dr Young will receive $5,000 to support his research. The overall winner of the 2019 award will be announced later this month.

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