Dr Myles Young wins Bupa’s Emerging Health Researcher Award 

Friday, 30 August 2019

Dr Myles Young has been named Bupa Foundation’s Emerging Health Researcher for 2019 in recognition of his work to improve men’s physical and mental health.

Dr Myles Young wins Bupa’s Emerging Health Researcher Award 
Dr Myles Young at the Bupa’s Health Foundation Awards

A researcher in the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition and Hunter Medical Research Institute’s (HMRI)* Cardiovascular Research Program, Dr Young was selected from a field of more than 140 nominations.

“I was completely humbled to win the award among a really inspiring shortlist of candidates, and very proud to represent the School, Faculty and University on the national stage,” Dr Young said.

Now in their eighth year, the Bupa Emerging Health Researcher Awards recognise the valuable contributions of health researchers in improving the health and wellbeing in the community.

He was awarded a total of $25,000 to further his career in research, including the $5,000 he received as a finalist in the awards.

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.

More than 70 per cent of Australian men are overweight or obese and roughly 80 per cent of men are not meeting national physical activity guidelines. Less than 5 per cent eat the recommend amount of fruits and vegetables. Men are also much less likely to engage in weight loss research and programs.

Dr Young’s 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 Queensland 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.

Throughout his career, Dr Young has secured $5.8M of research income as a named investigator, and more than $437,000 in competitive grants and fellowships as the lead investigator.

With joint funding by the Heart Foundation and HMRI supporter Daracon Group, Dr Young is now redeveloping the SHED-IT program with a renewed focus on helping men lift their mood, not just lose weight. Now called SHED-IT Recharge, the trial is aiming to recruit 120 men who’ll receive new, cutting-edge strategies on feeling mentally well, along with existing resources designed to teach men how to lose weight, become more active and improve their diet without eating like a rabbit.

In his short career, Dr Young has already won 17 academic awards, including Faculty commendations for Higher Degree Research and Early-Career Research excellence. In 2018 he was awarded Best Early-Career Presentation in Health Promotion at the national 2018 Sports Medicine Australia Conference.

Frequently published in highly-ranked journals, 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 the national Bupa Foundation 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.”

Dr Young highlighted the importance of the award for early researchers.

“A career in research can be a difficult path to forge, even with a great mentor,” he said.

“When the finalists were announced, I was beyond inspired by the company I was in. An award like this means so much to an early career researcher.”

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

For further information please contact University of Newcastle Communications and Media on 02 4921 5577 or email media@newcastle.edu.au.

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