Professor Elaine Rush

Professor of Nutrition

Professor Elaine Rush

Professor Elaine Rush was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2014 for services to health. Having spent over 30 years working and researching in the field of health and nutrition, Elaine is truly passionate about people and their health.

Elaine leads the nutrition and physical growth component of the world’s first longitudinal study of Pacific Island Families (PIF) Study at AUT. This study will help Elaine gain an understanding of why some Pacific children are so big and why some are so small, and why there is such a wide range of body sizes.

Elaine has been working with the PIF Study from the birth of the children, particularly looking at the foods that Pacific children eat and their body composition.

"When you weigh someone, you don’t know how much muscle or how much fat they have. You have to do other measurements such as how fast they can walk and factors associated with future health like blood glucose control.”

Elaine supervises 10 postgraduate students and is working with the AUT Food Network on a healthy snack bar project. She is also involved in various other research projects like Healthy Mums and Babies (HUMBA), which looks at a mother’s nutrition and physical activity during pregnancy.

To support her research, AUT has purchased a Pea Pod, an instrument for measuring body composition of new-born babies at Middlemore Hospital, with support from Lotteries Health and Gravida.

“The relationship between foods, bodies and exercise are fundamental parts of being human. They go together. It makes sense that from conception how well you water and feed your body is how well it’s going to function. I have this life-course approach to health, never too late but the earlier the better.”