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  • Dietitian awarded for childhood obesity research

    Author: Karen Keast

A New South Wales dietitian has been recognised for her research into child obesity, dietary assessment and food addiction.

Dr Tracy Burrows, an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and University of Newcastle (UoN) researcher, recently received the top accolade in the Medicine and Medical Sciences category of the Scopus Young Researcher of the Year Awards.

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The fifth awards, part of an Elsevier global initiative to recognise outstanding young scientists and researchers in the Australasian region, this year applauded the achievements of 17 young scientists, at the Australasian Research Management Society's (ARMS) 14th annual conference.

"People don't often associate dietetics with science," Dr Burrows recently told UoN.

"But nutrition is science, and I'm really happy it's starting to get noticed as such."


The award is the latest achievement for the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) researcher from the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition.

Earlier this year, Dr Burrows was shortlisted for the L'Oreal Women in Science Fellowship.

Dr Burrows was a contributor of a team recognised with a 2014 award from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for excellence in obesity prevention and she was also acknowledged for her work in the Healthy Dads Healthy Kids community-based campaign, rolled out at a number of schools in the state, which was credited with improving physical and mental health outcomes.

Dr Burrows' research has mainly focused on childhood obesity and her recent research, as part of an international collaboration of academics in psychology, biochemistry and medical radiation imaging fields, investigated food addiction and whether addiction to foods high in salt, fat and sugar could be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

"If we can prove that food addiction is real, then we can also show cause for the behavioural components of obesity," she stated.

"It could be that treatments need to be reworked so they hit these targets as well as the more obvious diet and physical activity ones."

Dr Burrows has also studied the feasibility of targeting Hunter parents with heart disease in a bid to boost the heart health of their children.

The senior lecturer and Dietitians Association of Australia member has been pivotal to the delivery of more than 50 healthy lifestyle intervention programs designed to improve people's nutrition intake, ranging from Indigenous to low-income families.

Professor Steven Allender, of Deakin University, was runner-up in the Medicine and Medical Sciences category of the Scopus awards while Dr James Fielding, of Australian National University, placed second runner-up.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords