New Kiwi study will see Government fund 75 percent of New Zealanders' food for 3 months

A new study will see the Government fund about 75 percent of some New Zealanders' food for 12 weeks in the hope of changing their eating habits to reduce health risks. 

A team of researchers is developing a uniquely New Zealand well-being diet, He Rourou Whai Painga, which they hope will tackle diabetes, heart and other noncommunicable diseases.

Its goal is to develop a 'New Zealand' dietary pattern, consisting chiefly of locally produced foods that reflect our unique environment and can improve the health of our communities.

"We know we have great quality produce in New Zealand, and this is an exciting opportunity to show that," endocrinologist Professor Jeremy Krebs at the University of Otago in Wellington said in a press release announcing the study on Monday. 

"When combined in a whole diet, with a focus on plant-based foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and cereals, nuts and seeds, olive oil and a moderate intake of seafood, our foods improve health and wellbeing of people at risk of diabetes and heart disease." 

The $4 million project, which is part of the High-Value Nutrition Science Challenge, will see 200 participants receive targeted nutrition support, including guidance on food preparation, recipe ideas and social media groups to connect with other study participants in their community.

The study will provide approximately 75 percent of the family's food for 12 weeks, with participants assessed for 12 months after they first enrol, with whānau included in key measurements.

The goal of the study is to improve Kiwis' health rather than weight loss. 

Following the announcement of the study, Krebs told AM on Monday he hopes the project can teach families how to eat healthier. 

"I think the unique thing about this particular study is that we're going to be giving people… a 75 percent approximately of their food requirements per week for 12 weeks, where we're giving them the opportunity to learn how to use these products in a healthy way and a healthy dietary pattern and try to move the whole family, whole family's dietary pattern to a more healthy one," he told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

"So not only are we giving them the food, but we're supporting them to make those changes and to learn how to use those foods in different ways to try foods that perhaps they haven't tried before, and that's very important. 

"I think across the whole whānau, you might get one person in the family who wants to change their diet, but what we're trying to do here is help the whole find out what's okay to change." 

Food prices have been rising throughout 2022 and Stats NZ's food price index released last week showed they rose by 1.2 percent in June. 

Jeremy Krebs said the goal of the study is to improve Kiwis' health rather than weight loss.
Jeremy Krebs said the goal of the study is to improve Kiwis' health rather than weight loss. Photo credit: AM

Krebs told AM one of the biggest challenges with the study is if participants can afford the food they are given in the project once they finish their 12 weeks. 

"That's one of the critical questions and particularly in the current environment that we're facing and it is a real challenge," he said.

"That unfortunately, really is beyond the scope of this study. What we're trying to help them do is to realise they can substitute some of the foods that we might be providing them in that 12 weeks and substitute in other things that have a similar dietary and nutritional value, so they can continue the pattern they've learned, tried to adopt and change to." 

The study will recruit 200 participants across four centres (Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Kokiri Marae in Lower Hutt). If you are interested in participating, visit

Watch the full interview with Jeremy Krebs above.