UniSA's Health and Use of Time (HUT) research concentration brings together a diverse group of scientists to look at how factors such as physical activity, sleep and screen time affect our physical, mental and social health.
The main thrust of the HUT Group's research is the link between how people use their time (including physical activity, sedentary behaviours like screen time and sleep) and health outcomes (such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental well-being). The HUT focuses especially on transition periods in people's life course: from primary to secondary school, from secondary school to work or university, marriage, parenthood, empty nest and retirement.
With specialist expertise in sport and exercise science, children's weight and fitness, statistics and mathematical modelling and body size and shape, the group is involved in a wide range of local, national and international projects aimed at optimising health and wellbeing.
It's all part of a sophisticated arm of health science that is bringing together rigorous research methods with cutting edge technology to help find workable solutions to the health issues presented by an increasingly automated society.
The concentration is also a leader in anthropometry (the science of body measurement) and is home to a 3D anthropometric body scanner, a burgeoning technology with applications ranging from ergonomics and design to defence, clothing sizing and surgery.
Professor Tim Olds - group leader
Dr Carol Maher - disabilities
Dr Grant Tomkinson - anthropometry
John Petkov - statistician
Lucy Lewis - children, chronic disease and evidence based practice
Nathan Daniell - 3D anthropometry
Michael Dale (Health and Use of Time)
Natasha Schranz (Health and Use of Time)
Dr Julie Walters (Lecturer of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences)
Dr Maureen McEvoy (Lecturer, School of Health Sciences)
Dr Coralie English (Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences)
Georgina Heath (School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy)
Assoc Prof Marie Williams (Associate Head of School: Academic, School of Population)
Prof Barbara Pocock (Director: Centre for Work and Life, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences)
Sjaan Gomersall - Testing the activitystat hypothesis: a randomised controlled trial
Toby Hunt - Use of time in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Andrew Wilson - The effect of a 10 minute physical activity break on elementary male students’ on-task behaviour, sustained attention and daily physical activity
Judy Sprod - Changes in use of time across the retirement transition
Jocelyn Kernot - The Mums Step it Up Program - a social networking physical activity intervention for post-partum women delivered via a Facebook application
Amanda Richardson - Predicting first year university student success: A multi domain approach to determine who thrives and who just survives
Gabrielle Rigney - A Randomised Controlled Trial of Sleep Education in Pre-Adolescents: An Evaluation of Contributing Factors
Konrad Job (validity of segmental surface areas with 3D scanning)
Michelle Somaras (health related quality of life in children)
Ty Ferguson (reliability and validity of commercial accelerometers)
Terry Jones (use of time in palliative care)
Claire Grant (use of time in individuals with motor neuron disease)
Effie Georgiadis (effects of maternal working status on health related quality of life in children)
Some of our key collaborators include:
- Australian Defence Force (ADF)
- Australian Football League (AFL)
- Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
- Centre for Sleep Research, University of South Australia
- Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU), The University of Auckland
- Flinders University
- Health Promotion Branch, SA Department of Health
- Murdoch Children's Research Institute
- Pennington Biomedical Research centre, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Curtain University
- Florey Institute
- University of Queensland
- University of Aberdeen
- Australian Centre for Education in Sleep
- Central Queensland University
Some of our key projects and research interests include:
Anthropometry and 3D laser body scanning
Researcher: Grant Tomkinson
Anthropometry measures body dimensions, such as bone lengths, shoulder width, girth, height, mass and skinfold thickness, for reasons such as monitoring athletes, tracking children's development and assessing changes in body size in response to exercise programs or disease. A global leader in anthropometric technology, the Health and Use of Time group is home to a 3D anthropometric scanner. The scanning technology, which was used in a major initiative to help improve aircraft and uniform design for the Australian Defence Force, has a wide range of applications, from cosmetic and maxillo-facial surgery, to ergonomics, industrial design and graphic design.
Assessing the effects of a school-based sleep intervention in Year 6 and 7 students
Researchers: Carol Maher, Tim Olds, Jim Dollman, Sarah Blunden (UniSA Centre for Sleep Research), John Petkov (UniSA Applied Statistics Unit), Michele Herriot (SA Health)
Children have been getting increasingly less sleep in recent decades, with the average Australian child not getting enough sleep for optimal health, wellbeing and social function. The first sleep behaviour intervention of its kind, this ARC-supported study will use a randomised controlled trial to test the effect of a sleep intervention in schools. Around 360 year six and seven children from 12 schools will taking part in a 10 week program to impart a comprehensive understanding of the physiology and benefits of sleep, including strategies to improve sleep patterns. Researchers hypothesise that the intervention will improve children's attitude and knowledge surrounding healthy sleep patterns, and in turn boost alertness, weight status and quality of life.
Global trends in childhood obesity
Researchers: Tim Olds and Carol Maher (Australia), Shi Zumin (China)
Sandrine Péneau, Sandrine Lioret, Katia Castetbon and France Bellisle (France), Maea Hohepa and Ralph Maddison (New Zealand), Lauren Lissner and Agneta Sjöberg (Sweden), Michael Zimmermann and Isabelle Aeberli (Switzerland), Cynthia Ogden and Katherine Flegal (USA), Jeroen de Wilde (Netherlands)
This collaborative project is bringing together researchers from ten countries to look at recent trends in the prevalence of obesity in children. Initial findings have indicated that while there have been rapid increases in childhood obesity over the last 30 to 40 years, prevalence appears to have stabilised across a wide range of countries over the last decade.
Historical changes in children's fitness and weight
Researchers: Tim Olds, Grant Tomkinson
Looking at data relating to 75 million children from 40 countries, researchers have noted a rapid decline in children's cardiovascular fitness from the 1970s onwards. Lower energy expenditure in daily life, less vigorous sport and changing diets are all thought to have played a role. This ongoing research is examining historical changes from the last 150 years to ask and answer important questions about children's fitness, weight and sleep patterns, in an effort to find better ways of improving children's health, fitness and wellbeing.
Historical trends in sleep patterns
Researchers: Tim Olds, Lisa Matricciani
Over the last century sleep patterns across the population have changed dramatically, with each generation on average getting 25 minutes less sleep than their parents. Electricity, television, computers, shift work, automation and decreased levels of physical activity are some of the factors thought to contribute to a gradual decline in sleep time. Researchers are looking at a range of data from the past 100 years in an effort to identify sleep trends, and ultimately shed light on ways to improve sleep, overall health and quality of life.
ISCOLE international study of children's lifestyles
Researchers: Tim Olds and Carol Maher (Australian arm), with international collaborators
ISCOLE is a 12-nation survey of children's lifestyle, co-ordinated by the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. Countries involved are the US, Canada, Australia, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, China, India, Portugal, and the UK. Initially a cross-sectional study, with an option for a longitudinal follow-up, the survey is of 500 children from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, with researchers looking at physical activity, diet, school and home environments and weight status.
Testing the 'activitystat' hypothesis
Researchers: Tim Olds, Kevin Norton, Sjaan Gomersall, Jim Dollman
This study is testing the concept that if people's physical activity is increased in one domain, there will be a compensatory decrease in another, thus maintaining an overall stable level of physical activity and energy expenditure (the 'activitystat' hypothesis). Participants - young to middle aged adults who are undergoing major life transitions such as moving from education to employment and beginning families - will be randomised into three groups, undertaking either normal activities, a moderate exercise program, or a more extensive exercise program. The information gained will shape the broader paradigm of optimal exercise prescription, as well as informing procedures for monitoring and evaluating exercise interventions.
The Health and Use of Time research concentration is located in the Centenary Building, Level 7 at UniSA's City East Campus, North Terrace, Adelaide.
Telephone +61 8 830 26558
Toll-Free 1800 282 090
Health and Use of Time Group
Division of Health Sciences
University of South Australia
GPO BOX 2471
Adelaide SA 5001