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Dr Laura Alston

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Dr Laura Alston

Reducing the burden of Cardiovascular diseases for Future Rural Dwelling Australians

Dr Laura Alston, Deakin University

2019 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2023

This fellowship proposal represents a supportive, international collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Deakin University’s Global Obesity Centre, Deakin Rural Health, and Colac Area Health (a rural health service). This project aims to generate evidence to better assist health services in driving community action to improve the food environment and diet of rural Australians in order to facilitate future reductions in cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Rural health services are recognised by State and Federal Government as leaders in their communities, but there is a lack of large scale resourcing and evidence-based recommendations to drive the actions that are the gold standard for improving diets and preventing CVD in rural Australia.

This project is currently funded in Victoria, and requires further support for national and international upscaling of the fellowship. This research plan consists of three studies that address the following aims:

1. Audit and generate evidence of the current healthiness of food environments in regional areas and determine capacity of the current food environment for preventing CVDs

(Study 1). 2. Survey individual dietary intakes in rural communities and generate links of association between the food environments

(Study 2). 3. Define the role of rural health services in improving food environments for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases in disproportionally effected rural areas

(Study 3). 4. Develop evidence-based recommendations translatable to other rural health services in Australia and a framework to guide implementation of improvements to the food environment in rural communities

(Study 4). The outcomes of this study will provide evidence on the role of rural food environments in the burden of CVD and evidence based recommendations for Health Services to address the disproportionate burden of CVD in rural areas through taking action to improve dietary intakes.

Last updated12 July 2021