Professor Grant Schofield

Professor of Public Health 
Director of the Human Potential Centre at AUT Millennium

Prof Grant Schofield

Professor Grant Schofield started his career as a psychologist. He completed his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in psychology at the University of Auckland, but quickly found that his passion lay more in public health, physiology and nutrition.

Grant is passionate about reducing the risk and eventual mortality and morbidity from obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

His research concerning Pacific peoples concerns non-communicable diseases, like diabetes and obesity. Grant and his team are looking into the metabolic differences between Pacific people and everyone else.

In their visits to places like Vanuatu, Tonga, Nauru, Tuvalu and Kiribati they found that to keep up with the World Health Organisation’s nutrition recommendations of low-fat diet was completely inappropriate.

Through Grant’s research projects, he challenges the conventional ‘low fat’ diet with the low carb, high fat (LCHF) option.

His team have found that this has worked especially for Pacific people. They have found the Pacific population is obviously suffering disproportionately from obesity and diabetes, heart disease, cancer and that they are on the increase. This is not just in the Pacific Islands themselves, but here in Auckland as well.
According to the LCHF diet, a way to combat this is to restrict sugar and carbohydrates while eating more fat.
Grant works on a number of projects that are Pacific-related or have Pacific components. He has just started a gene-type project looking at an enzyme that helps people to digest starch.

"There’s a chance that Pacific people will have fewer of these particular genes and so you get people who have been exposed to more carbohydrate in stable environments which might explain or have something to do with obesity," Grant explains.

“I have a personal philosophy of ‘be the best you can be’. I frame that around anything and it helps me in a positive way.”