With the Institute of Technology Sligo

This page briefly outlines the research studies that we have conducted in partnership with the Institute of Technology Sligo to date (N=2)*. All studies are focused on the area of community based health interventions for women aged over 50 and farmers living in Ireland. 

Research title: To Determine the Impact of a 6-Week Community-Based Lifestyle Education and Physical Activity Programme on Dietary Intake, Physical, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health of Farmers Living in Ireland.

Research paper: Published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science (8th March 2021). 

Background: Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among Irish farmers. Evidence-based lifestyle interventions which aim to improve dietary patterns and health through education and increase physical activity are associated with reduced NCD risk, particularly in populations at high risk. The impact of lifestyle intervention among Irish farmers is unknown. The aim of this research is to assess the effectiveness of a 6-week community-based lifestyle education and physical activity intervention on the dietary intake, physical, cardiovascular and metabolic health of farmers living in Ireland.

Methods: A 6-week lifestyle education and physical activity intervention involving a one-hour health education workshop and two 60-minute circuit based functional exercise training sessions per week was implemented. Pre and post-tests included physical (weight, height, body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, anthropometric measurements), cardiovascular (fasting total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides), metabolic (fasting blood glucose and metabolic syndrome components), performance (6 minute walk test, sit-to-stand test) and perceived physical and mental health measurements (PROMIS Global-10). Dietary intake was assessed using 3-day food diaries (3DFD) and analysed using Nutritics software.

Results: Thirty farmers completed the intervention. Significant improvements were found for most physical health characteristics except for lean muscle mass. Post intervention there were significant improvements in performance measurements. There was a statistically significant positive change in physical and mental health t scores post intervention. Median adherence to dietary guidelines increased from pre (Mdn= 5, IQR= 4) to post (Mdn= 6, IQR= 3) intervention (p=0.03).

Conclusion: Results indicate that NCD risk decreased following this 6-week community-based lifestyle intervention. Farmers in Ireland must be targeted for lifestyle intervention as the evidence available to date shows they are at high risk of developing noncommunicable diseases but respond positively to lifestyle intervention.

Research partners: IT Sligo.

Funding acknowledgement: Ruth received an employment-based postgraduate scholarship from the Irish Research Council to complete this study for her MSc in partnership with True Fitness and the Institute of Technology Sligo.