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Spotlight on Research

Dr. Heather Foulds is a Kinesiology faculty member and and her research interests have included several areas that impact health in Indigenous populations, particularly projects evaluating cardiovascular health. Working with other U of S researchers (Dr. Carol Rodgers, Dr. Leah Ferguson and Ms. Vicky Duncan), Dr. Foulds completed a review of screen time in Indigenous popultions that has been accepted for publication. This exciting news was included in a profile from the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association, reprinted below, or click here to read the full newsletter.

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Heather Foulds is a Métis researcher who grew up in Prince George, BC, and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Saskatchewan in the College of Kinesiology. Heather completed her Master of Sciences (MSc) in Human Kinetics at the University of British Columbia, studying and developing several projects evaluating cardiovascular health in Indigenous populations. Heather’s work and research in cardiovascular health will help reduce risks of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity.

Heather’s MSc evaluated a community-based program, currently called the “Aboriginal RunWalk”, working in partnership with SportMedBC. Aboriginal RunWalk is offered in Indigenous communities throughout British Columbia and local community volunteers lead walking and/or running programs for 13 weeks in preparation for either the Vancouver Sun Run or a local event. As part of the research program, Heather and her team travelled around the province and evaluated health measures including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars and fitness measures before and after the 13 weeks of training. Their findings highlighted the benefits of walking and running for Indigenous adults of all ages and fitness levels, including those with and without diabetes.

Heather’s PhD in Experimental Medicine included 2 projects. In one project, Heather evaluated vascular health among Indigenous adults, which identified generally healthy vascular measures.  The second project evaluated vascular and cardiac responses to exercise among Indigenous young adults, and those of European descent. Generally similar responses to exercise were identified, though blood pressure changes were only observed among the adults of European descent. 

Some of Heather’s other research has been reviews of currently available literature. The main findings have shown lower rates of hypertension among Indigenous populations in North America compared to those of European descent and low proportions of Indigenous populations meeting physical activity guidelines (generally 25-35% of adults).

Along with Drs. Carol Rodgers and Leah Ferguson and Ms. Vicky Duncan, Heather has completed a review of screen time in Indigenous populations, which has just been accepted for publication in Obesity Reviews. Screen time is known to be associated with increased health risks including obesity. Heather and her team identified greater screen time among males vs. females, youth vs. children, First Nations vs. Métis or Inuit, and overweight/obese individuals vs. normal weight individuals.  Screen time was also generally greater among Indigenous populations compared to those of European descent in North America.

As a newcomer to Saskatchewan, Heather is still making connections in Indigenous communities there, and welcomes interest from any community or community group who would be interested in partnering on research projects.

Reprinted with permission.  
Copyright - Newsletter (April 2016), National Aboriginal Diabetes Association, nada.ca

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