I am a Professor of Population Nutrition within the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University. With a background in dietetics and public health nutrition, I developed INfant Feeding, Active play and NuTrition (INFANT) with Professor Kylie Hesketh more than a decade ago.
In 2007, Kylie and I, both researchers and mothers with young children, became intrigued by the opportunities for health promotion and illness prevention in the first 1000 days of life. So, we developed and trialled INFANT with the intention to scale-up and implement, beyond the research bubble. When we started, INFANT was internationally-ground-breaking as a first-of-its-kind early childhood research trial. Now, INFANT remains internationally world-leading, being the first Maternal and Child Health Nurse delivered early life nutrition and active play initiative to be delivered and evaluated at scale.
My focus on early life prevention has led me to expand my research focus back into pregnancy and indeed to the time before conception where our research tells us we need to support aspiring parents to eat well and be active to promote their own and their baby’s health.
The most rewarding part position within the INFANT team, relates to my capacity to support and promote our researchers, coordinators and PhD students to develop their own programs of work and to continue to build critical capacity focussed on promoting health across the first 2000 days.
My hope for the future is there will be greater resources and supports for families from culturally diverse backgrounds to help support them throughout parenthood. Importantly, I would love to reach every family with our early childhood nutrition supports, not just those who are easiest to reach.