Menzies School of Health Research
Obesity and Preventable Chronic Disease; Indigenous Health

Dr Hughes recognized the lack of detailed body composition studies of Indigenous Australians and sought to correct this in her research. She found distinct differences in both body build and composition. Her research showed that in many traits such as a short trunk and higher lean mass for overall size, the body composition for both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people meant they were more at risk of abdominal obesity (due to intra-abdominal fat deposition) and therefore at a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. The pattern of predominant abdominal obesity was also shown by Dr Hughes’ research to link with albuminuria (a key marker of kidney damage).

Jacquelyne has used her unique role as an Indigenous Australian and a specialist health clinician and researcher based in the Territory to promote the health status of Indigenous Australians with obesity-related chronic disease among health academics and policy spheres. She also engages with the community through succinct and culturally appropriate health messages to help them better understand how overweight and obesity contributes to chronic disease risk.