My interest in food and food systems began at a young age as a consequence of growing up in rural Australia. Many members of my family have been involved in food production including dairy farming, wheat and banana plantations; I saw first-hand the impact of poor agricultural policy. At the same time I also developed my love of the environment and my interest in sustainability and conservation.
When I went to university I completed a bachelor’s course in applied science and it was at this time I began to learn more about nutrition, consequently undertaking a graduate diploma in nutrition and dietetics where my interest in public health nutrition first began to emerge. Initially however I pursued a career in clinical nutrition, eventually specialising in diabetes management.
In 2001 I moved to the UK, where my work was based in the East End of London, which has a culturally diverse population with high levels of deprivation and a high prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes. My day to day frustration, working with so many people with a disease that is largely preventable, led me again to realise that prevention of such nutrition related diseases was the route I wanted to pursue. My work in this area deepened my understanding of the social and environmental issues affecting health and inequities and it became obvious that diabetes was not simply a problem of biology. It was during this time that all of my interests began to merge and I found myself moving towards public health nutrition, food policy and politics. In 2007 I co-wrote my first paper on the ethics of food, looking at the role of the British Dietetic Association and dietitians in the wider ethical issues of food.
My interests then led me to undertake a PhD in Food Policy, where I took an ecological approach to nutrition and public health, exploring from a social, political and economic point of view, the emerging epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes, among two generations of British Bangladeshi adults. My PhD, awarded in 2011 was guided by Martin Caraher and Tim Lang.
Whilst completing my PhD I took a position with the regional public health group in London as the food and obesity programme manager to further develop my expertise in public health, policy development and strategic leadership skills. In 2010 I then moved to the public health department in Tower Hamlets, East London, taking up a post as a senior public health strategist leading on the area of maternity and the early years.
My main research interests lie at the intersection of human nutrition, ecological public health and the social sciences including the nutrition transition in migrant communities; food ethics and sustainability; wider determinants of health and health inequalities and the prevention of chronic nutrition-related diseases.
I have been active in conference presentations and have a number of publications. I am currently in the process of writing articles based on my PhD thesis and work within public health.