Christian Thoma

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Senior Lecturer


Links to relevant web pages:

Academic appointments:

  • Senior Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology (2019 - ongoing)
  • Lecturer, Auckland Univeristy of Technology (2016 - 2019)
  • Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology (2015 - 2016)
  • Lecturer, Auckland University of Technology (2015 - 2015)
  • Research Assistant, Newcastle University (2013 - 2014)


  • PhD (Clinical Exercise Physiology), Newcastle University
  • MSc with distinction (Nutrition), University of Otago
  • BSc (Microbiology and Immunology), University of Otago
  • Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine
  • Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, American College of Sports Medicine


I’ve had an intense interest in exercise and nutrition for health and performance since my early teens, and my passion for teaching and coaching goes back almost as far. Somewhat later, during my early postgraduate years, I also developed an interest for yoga, especially the breathing techniques. My tertiary education and career have taken me from bench top, as a nutrition laboratory technician, to bedside, or rather bike-side, as a clinical exercise physiologist. In-between, I’ve also worked as a senior government public health nutritionist. This multi-disciplinary and multi-country career has taken me from Dunedin in the far South of New Zealand, to Newcastle in the far North of England, and now Aukland in the North of New Zealand. My interests are broad because health is influenced by many factors and demands a holistic perspective.

My number one fascination is the variation in response from person-to-person to similar appearing diets, exercise, and other health interventions. I believe that as technology makes it ever easier and cheaper to track key pillars of health such as diet, physical activity, stress levels, and sleep, we will develop a much more useful understanding of health and be much more able to offer personalised precision prevention and therapy.

Research interests:

My research interests focus on the therapeutic use of nutrition, physical activity, which includes but is not limited to exercise, and yogic breathing techniques in health and disease. My work with the BioDesign Lab ( also involves developing and testing new wearable health monitoring and therapeutic technologies. My main focus is on metabolic conditions such as diabetes (type 2 and gestational) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). My current projects are looking at the metabolic effects of fasted exercise, the effects of different dietary approaches on the development of gestational diabetes, the validation of a new wrist-worn technology for monitoring stress levels, and the use of different breathing techniques for influencing the autonomic nervous system.

Teaching summary:

In the past I have taught and run papers on research methods, nutrition, physical activity, and health and wellness. Currently I am teaching papers on human anatomy and physiology, as well as nutrition, activity and health. I am a big believer in blended learning in which both online learning modules complement face-to-face interactions with students.

Fields of research:

  • Metabolic Medicine
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Clinical and Sports Nutrition
  • Nutritional Physiology
  • Medical Physiology

Professional activities:

Outreach and engagement

  • BioDesign Lab Blog (2020)

Research outputs:

Journal articles

  • Houghton, D., Zalewski, P., Hallsworth, K., Cassidy, S., Thoma, C., Avery, L., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2019). The degree of hepatic steatosis associates with impaired cardiac and autonomic function. Journal of Hepatology, 70(6), 1203-1213. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2019.01.035

  • Houghton, D., Hallsworth, K., Thoma, C., Cassidy, S., Hardy, T., Heaps, S., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2017). Effects of exercise on liver fat and metabolism in alcohol drinkers. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 15(10). doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2017.05.001

  • Cassidy, S., Thoma, C., Houghton, D., & Trenell, M. I. (2017). High-intensity interval training: A review of its impact on glucose control and cardiometabolic health. Diabetologia, 60(1). doi:10.1007/s00125-016-4106-1

  • Houghton, D., Thoma, C., Hallsworth, K., Cassidy, S., Hardy, T., Burt, A. D., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2017). Exercise reduces liver lipids and visceral adiposity in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in a randomized controlled trial. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 15(1). doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2016.07.031

  • Cassidy, S., Thoma, C., Hallsworth, K., Parikh, J., Hollingsworth, K. G., Taylor, R., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2016). High intensity intermittent exercise improves cardiac structure and function and reduces liver fat in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomised controlled trial. Diabetologia, 59(1). doi:10.1007/s00125-015-3741-2

  • Cassidy, S., Hallsworth, K., Thoma, C., MacGowan, G. A., Hollingsworth, K. G., Day, C. P., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2015). Cardiac structure and function are altered in type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and associate with glycemic control. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 14. doi:10.1186/s12933-015-0187-2

  • Hallsworth, K., Thoma, C., Moore, S., Ploetz, T., Anstee, Q. M., Taylor, R., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2015). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with higher levels of objectively measured sedentary behaviour and lower levels of physical activity than matched healthy controls. Frontline Gastroenterol, 6(1). doi:10.1136/flgastro-2014-100432

  • Hallsworth, K., Thoma, C., Hollingsworth, K. G., Cassidy, S., Anstee, Q. M., Day, C. P., & Trenell, M. I. (2015). Modified high-intensity interval training reduces liver fat and improves cardiac function in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Science, 129(12). doi:10.1042/CS20150308

  • Chen, D. L., Liess, C., Poljak, A., Xu, A., Zhang, J., Thoma, C., . . . Greenfield, J. R. (2015). Phenotypic characterization of insulin-resistant and insulin-sensitive obesity. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 100(11). doi:10.1210/jc.2015-2712

  • Hallsworth, K., Hollingsworth, K. G., Thoma, C., Jakovljevic, D., Macgowan, G. A., Anstee, Q. M., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2013). Cardiac structure and function are altered in adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Journal of Hepatology, 58(4). doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2012.11.015

  • Jakovljevic, D. G., Hallsworth, K., Zalewski, P., Thoma, C., Klawe, J. J., Day, C. P., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2013). Resistance exercise improves autonomic regulation at rest and haemodynamic response to exercise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Clinical Science, 125(3). doi:10.1042/CS20120684

  • Thelwall, P. E., Smith, F. E., Leavitt, M. C., Canty, D., Hu, W., Hollingsworth, K. G., . . . Quinn, A. G. (2013). Hepatic cholesteryl ester accumulation in lysosomal acid lipase deficiency: Non-invasive identification and treatment monitoring by magnetic resonance. Journal of Hepatology, 59(3). doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2013.04.016

  • Thoma, C., Day, C. P., & Trenell, M. I. (2012). Lifestyle interventions for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adults: A systematic review. Journal of Hepatology, 56(1), 255-266. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2011.06.010

  • Jakovljevic, D. G., Moore, S., Hallsworth, K., Fattakhova, G., Thoma, C., & Trenell, M. I. (2012). Comparison of cardiac output determined by bioimpedance and bioreactance methods at rest and during exercise. Journal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing, 26(2). doi:10.1007/s10877-012-9334-4

  • Hallsworth, K., Fattakhova, G., Hollingsworth, K. G., Thoma, C., Moore, S., Taylor, R., . . . Trenell, M. I. (2011). Resistance exercise reduces liver fat and its mediators in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease independent of weight loss. Gut, 60(9), 1278-1283. doi:10.1136/gut.2011.242073

  • Reuss, R., McKague, E., Webb, T., Cunningham, J., Joseph, B., Thoma, C., . . . Mackerras, D. (2009). Trans fatty acids in Australia and New Zealand. Australasian Epidemiologist, 16.

  • Skeaff, C. M., Thoma, C., Mann, J., Chisholm, A., Williams, S., & Richmond, K. (2005). Isocaloric substitution of plant sterol-enriched fat spread for carbohydrate-rich foods in a low-fat, fibre-rich diet decreases plasma low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increases high-density lipoprotein concentrations. Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, 15(5), 337-344. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2005.03.002

  • Thoma, C., Green, T. J., & Ferguson, L. R. (2003). Citrus Pectin and Oligofructose Improve Folate Status and Lower Serum Total Homocysteine in Rats. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 73(6), 403-409. doi:10.1024/0300-9831.73.6.403

Book chapters

  • Thoma, C., Seal, J., Hunt, A., & Mackerras, D. (2011). Iodine Fortification of Bread: Experiences from Australia and New Zealand. In V. R. Preedy, R. R. Watson, & V. B. Patel (Eds.), Flour and Breads and Their Fortification in Health and Disease Prevention (pp. 281-291). Amsterdam: Academic Press.

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