Researchers at Massey University here are carrying out a study on the health of South Asian women, especially among its large Indian community, to see whether changes in diet affect their health.
The research is led by doctoral student Pamela von Hurst from the university's institute of food, nutrition and human health, who said that south Asian women are known to have a higher predisposition to developing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
According to the latest census, the Indian population has gone up from 60,000 in 2001 to more than 107,000 in 2006.
The study is believed to be the first wide scale observation of the health of South Asian women living in New Zealand, according to scoop.co.nz.
Pamela said different factors - including diet and climate - affect the health of the ethnic group when they come to a country like New Zealand.
"There has been a lot of research interest in vitamin D and its role in a number of diseases. One of the aims of this study is to investigate the influence of vitamin D deficiency in type-two diabetes and to test the effectiveness of vitamin supplements," Pamela added.
"Obviously there is going to be a change in diet. In India, diabetes has soared as the middle class has taken on more of the excesses of western lifestyle. The change of diet here is a factor but so too is the climate where there are fewer sunshine hours and it's harder for their darker skin to make Vitamin D," Pamela said.
Massey University is the country's largest university with approximately 40,000 students. It has campuses in Wellington and Auckland. It has the nation's largest business college. Research is undertaken on all three campuses.