Lisa Te Morenga

Dr Lisa TeMorenga profile picture

Senior Lecturer Wellington Faculty of Health


Lisa Te Morenga (Ngapuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Te Uri o Hua, Te Rarawa) is Senior Lecturer Māori Health in the School of Health. She completed a PhD in Human Nutrition in 2010 at the University of Otago and continued as a senior research fellow in the Department of Human Nutrition and Associate Dean Māori in the Division of Sciences until 2018. She is a principal investigator with Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research at the University of Otago and an associate investigator with the Riddet Institute – a National Centre of Research Excellence food material science, novel food processing, human nutrition and gastrointestinal biology and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga – New Zealand's Māori Centre of Research Excellence. In 2018 she was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship by The Royal Society–Te Apārangi. In 2019 she received the Royal Society–Te Apārangi’s Hamilton Award for her contribution to international evidence-based nutrition policy stemming from her research examining the impact of dietary sugars on body weight.


Supervision Interests

Culturally tailored interventions supporting healthier lifestyles e.g:

  • Codesigning a sugar reduction intervention with Māori adolescents
  • Codesigning an intervention to improve sleep and reduce screen time with Maori adolescents
  • Exploration of the complementary infant feeding practices of Māori whānau

Research Interests

Lisa's research interests involve the role of diet, (particularly dietary carbohydrates) in the treatment and prevention of obesity, the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She has a special interest in the relationship between nutrition, hauora (Māori health) and health equity. Lisa’s primary motivation is to undertake research that is of direct benefit to Māori and thus focuses on the role of nutrition in the development of preventable diseases that inflict a particularly high health burden on the Māori community. Recently she has started examining the role of adequate sleep in the development and prevention of obesity.

Current Projects

  • Co-design and evaluation of a mobile health (mHealth) tool to help reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes Māori and Pasifika communities conducted with community partners.
  • The role of sleep in the development of child and adolescent obesity
  • Dietary Interventions: Evidence & Translation (DIET) programme which aims to improve the diets of populations equitably
  • Investigation of the health attributes of wholegrain cereal products differing in structural properties and the way that they are processed into consumer products.
  • Dietary intervention studies examining the effects of consuming whole fruit and large quantities of different beverages that contain different types of dietary sugars or sweetener on serum uric acid and other risk factors for the metabolic syndrome in individuals who are at risk of developing diabetes.
  • Development of improved methods of assessing and monitoring sugar intakes and the population and individual level including novel biomarkers in blood and hair
  • Systematic review and meta-analyses of the effects of carbohydrates (including starches, sugars and dietary fibre) on health outcomes in adults and children as part of the evidence-base underpinning the revision of the WHO recommendation of carbohydrate intakes

Recently completed supervision and/or research projects


  • Tracey Wilkie. Improving nutrition knowledge and diet quality amongst Māori tamariki and their whānau in a primary school setting using a kaupapa Māori co-design research approach. Current.
  • Debbie Goodwin. A kaupapa Māori evaluation of a co-design mHealth Project with Māori communities (University of Auckland). Current.
  • Evie Mete. Physiological effects of processed wholegrain foods in healthy adults (University of Otago). Current
  • Caleb Robinson. Whole Grains, Fibre and Health: Carbohydrate digestibility and the microbiome (University of Otago). Current.
  • Devonia Kruimer. Development and application of dietary sugars intake biomarkers. 2017.

Master of Dietetics

  • Charlotte Unasa. Association between carbon staple isotope ratios in RBCs and free sugar intake estimated by a brief FFQ. 2018
  • Alice Talmage. Reliability and validity of a semi-quantitative, short food frequency questionnaire for assessing macronutrient and free and added sugars intake in New Zealand adults. 2018
  • Sophie Holzwarth. Association between carbon stable isotope ratios in hair and self-reported free sugars intake. 2018
  • Te Huri Arthur. Perceptions and acceptability of Low Carbohydrate, High Fat (LCHF) diets among Māori whānau in Dunedin 2018
  • Emma Cummack. Exploring the facilitators and challenges of weight loss maintenance after a 12 week very low calorie diet programme. 2018
  • Courtney Steele. Dietary patterns associated with meeting the World Health Organization free sugar guidelines in New Zealand adults. 2018
  • Sonja Olney. Feasibility of following a low free sugars diet in New Zealand : a mixed-methods exploratory study. 2017
  • Rachael Kibblewhite. Estimating free sugars intake in New Zealand. 2017
  • Alice Nettleton. Estimating added sugars intake in New Zealand. 2017
  • Catherine Lofthouse. Low sodium diets: feasibility in New Zealand. 2016.
  • Vanessa Blyth. Validation of a Food Frequency Questionnaire assessing the sugar intakes of Pacific Islanders in Auckland, New Zealand. 2015.
  • Leah McNeil. The effect of dietary sugars on uric acid and cardio-metabolic risk factors in East Coast Maori. 2015.
  • Elain Furter. The Māori Kai semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire: relative validity and reliability for assessing usual sugar intakes in New Zealand East Coast Māori. 2014.
  • Olivia Boniface. Validation of a short Food Frequency Questionnaire which ranks individuals by sugar intakes in Pacific Islanders living in South Auckland, New Zealand. 2014.
  • Petra Teufl. Development, validation and test-retest reliability of a short food frequency questionnaire that measures sugar intake in Pukapuka Pacific Islanders living in Auckland, New Zealand. 2014.
  • Hannah Walter. Development, validation and reliability of a short food frequency questionnaire that measures sugar intake in Maori living in Gisborne, New Zealand. 2014.

Master of Science

  • Mona Elbalshy. Wholegrains and health: effect of grain structure and gelatinization processes on glycemic responses in type 2 diabetes. 2019
  • Peter Crutchley. The effect of replacing sugary-sweetened beverages on serum uric acid, the metabolic syndrome, and its components. 2013.
  • Alex Howatson. Dietary sugar and blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis Completed. 2013.
  • Rhiannon Jones. A meta-analysis on the effects of dietary sugar on blood lipids. 2013.

BSc Honours

Mathew Bourke. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and their link to Insulin Resistance. 2014.


View a list of publications from Lisa Te Morenga