Improving health through sustainability

Kim Anastasiou

In her relatively short career as a research dietitian, Kim Anastasiou (BNutDiet(Hons) ’18) has built a strong peer network, frequently collaborating with researchers and youth advocates dedicated to promoting environmentally sustainable diets and the global availability of a nutritious food supply.

In 2017, during the last month of her degree at Flinders in which she received first-class honours, Kim successfully applied for a research dietitian role at the CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency.

“Having worked with both Dr Kacie Dickinson and Dr Lucinda Bell helped me to understand what the daily life of a researcher looks like,” Kim says.

“They also helped me to see that nutrition research holds a key place in making a meaningful difference in the world of public health.”

In her first year at the CSIRO, Kim worked on a wide variety of nutrition and public health projects, including clinical trials, evaluating the national Health Star Rating system and a review of the health impacts of e-cigarettes. She is still currently working in this role, albeit in a part-time capacity alongside her PhD.

Kim has gone on to undertake further projects aimed at quantifying the environmental impacts of the Australian diet. This is where her love of good food, health and the environment began to converge.

“Environmental impacts of ultra-processed foods are poorly understood,” she explains.

“By conceptualising and quantifying their impacts in my PhD, I’m helping to demonstrate the mutual health and environmental benefits of reducing the production and consumption of ultra-processed foods.”

This year, Kim was nominated as a Young Scientist for the World Food Forum, which is part of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. She was also named in NewsCorps list of Australia’s top 20 researchers under 40.

As a frequent presenter for Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Kim’s passion for public health and environmental science is inspiring others to explore this evolving space.

“I love what I do and would love to keep doing it,” she says.

“Currently, agriculture, nutrition, economic, social welfare and environmental policies are overwhelmingly created and implemented in isolation of each other.

“My goal is to work across a wide range of science domains to better understand and promote systems-based solutions to improve the health, social, environmental and economic sustainability of our food system.

“I also hope to work closely with advocacy groups or policymakers to ensure that research is being translated into real systems-based changes.”

Kim Anastasiou was awarded a 2022 Early Career Alumni Award for significant advocacy and research in creating environmentally sustainable diets and improving healthy food systems.

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