Men's health researcher shines in the national spotlight

Aug 28 2019

Dr Myles Young

Dr Myles Young, a researcher in HMRI’s Cardiovascular Research Program and the University of Newcastle’s Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition has been announced as the Bupa Health Foundation Emerging Health Researcher for 2019.

With five finalists selected from a field of over 140 nominations Dr Young was delighted to be shortlisted – and absolutely blown away when he was announced the winner in Melbourne on August 27.

“A career in research can be a difficult path to forge, even with a great mentor,” Dr Young said. “When the finalists were announced I was beyond inspired by the company I was in. An award like this means so much to an early career researcher.”

Like his mentor and nominator, Professor Phil Morgan, Dr Myles Young has a keen interest in improving men’s health. Drawing on his undergraduate degree in psychology and the health behaviour expertise gained during his PhD, Dr Young is now forging ahead with an innovative research program designed to improve men’s physical and mental health.

Dr Young’s research challenge is ‘how do you engage men in making healthy lifestyle changes?’

Typically, men only represent 27% of weight loss study participants. They’re hard to engage because they feel that programs aren’t designed for them.

What is the key to getting men engaged in their health and wellbeing?

Dr Young has had great success with ‘gender-tailored’ programs, which specifically cater to men’s preferences and values. The SHED-IT program is an online program he helped design which has helped hundreds of men lose weight and keep it off, without having to give up beer or engage in unsustainable exercise regimes.

For long-term success, any lifestyle changes a person makes to lose weight and improve their health has to be something they’re prepared to do for the rest of their life. If not, the weight comes back on, and often with a little added extra.

With joint funding by HMRI supporter Daracon and The Heart Foundation, Dr Young has now launched the SHED-IT Recharge program and is currently recruiting men aged 18-70 who would like to lose a few kg and improve their mood. 

This is an important research area, given 50% of previous SHED-IT participants have been affected by low mood symptoms like tiredness, frustration, stress and generally feeling down. But at the end of the program, these symptoms had improved across the board. It’s long been understood that mental and physical health are linked – but this study was one of the first to show that weight loss could improve mental health outcomes in men.

Now in its eighth year, the Bupa Emerging Health Researcher Awards recognises the valuable contributions of health researchers to improving the health and wellbeing of our community.

Dr Myles Young is a member of the “Jennie Thomas Family” at HMRI.