PhD shows health benefits of CHIP

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And will give Avondale its second doctoral graduate

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

A 30-day lifestyle intervention delivered by volunteer facilitators in their communities significantly improves the health of participants, research by an Avondale PhD student shows.

Paul Rankin

Paul Rankin will become Avondale’s second PhD graduate.

Dr Paul Rankin examined the low-fat, plant-based Coronary Health Improvement Program (CHIP). He based his thesis on a study of 5070 people who participated in one of 178 CHIP interventions delivered by volunteers in Canada and the United States between 2006 and 2009.

He found two things.

The first: CHIP can be effectively presented by “appropriately resourced” volunteers in a community setting rather than by professionals in a clinical setting. “If you’ve got a personal connection with someone, you’ll have a bigger impact on their life,” says Paul.

The second: Regardless of age, body weight, family history, gender, marital status or religious affiliation, participants lowered their risk of metabolic syndrome (MetS)—a cluster of factors that lead to chronic diseases. Paul: “I can now stand up when I train CHIP facilitators and say, ‘We know that by running this program, you will be making a difference to people’s lives.’”

Paul experienced this personally before beginning his research—he has lost 35 kilograms since making CHIP lifestyle changes in 2005. “Adopting a much healthier diet and getting more exercise made a dramatic difference—my quality of life and my risk factors for MetS improved,” he says.

The PhD will leave another legacy, too. It has helped establish credibility for CHIP in the medical community—Paul is co-author of six journal articles, with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine describing one in the American Journal of Cardiology as “some of the most impressive recorded clinical changes ever.”

Paul is the second student to graduate with a PhD from Avondale—René Gehring became the first in 2011—but the first to begin and end the degree at the college of higher education. He has become “great mates” with his supervisor, Dr Darren Morton, a senior lecturer in health and exercise science in the School of Education. Darren’s even encouraged Paul to take up hang-gliding.

While conferred, Paul will receive his testamur at graduation this year.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific has relaunched CHIP, developed in the United States by Dr Hans Diehl’s Lifestyle Medicine Institute. The Complete Health Improvement Program is now under the leadership and management of Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing in Australia.