Hope everyone enjoyed the DAA conference 2015 in Perth, lots of great presentations.  See below for a few highlights of the conference!

Using technology to enhance clinical dietetics – Emma Ridley

Emma’s objective was to inspire us to think differently, question what we are currently doing and consider doing something new/different – and she certainly did that!

Emma discusses how technology at the bedside can enhance clinical dietetics including the use of indirect calorimetry, BIA and apps

Emma shows us how the use of technology can save us time and improve efficiency

Click here to view Emma’s presentation

Loved this forward thinking presentation by Michelle Celander

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It is a pleasure and privilege to share the session with my clinical and public health colleagues, and have the opportunity to represent the dynamic group of dietitians working with the Australian food industry.

The task of imagining what the result of dietitians driving change by 2050 is a BIG one. We can be sure that the rate over change over the next 35 years is going to outstrip the change we have seen in the last. The future is both unknown and unknowable, but the more I pondered, the clearer I became of the answer. It’s one that takes a lot of imagination, and that answer is whatever we collectively create it to be.  Inspired by that ah-ha moment, I want now share thought- provoking images we specifically created with the intention of sparking your imaginings of our future reality.

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Here is the first one, what do you see?  Do you see the fragility of our environment in crisis? One where natural resources are becoming scarcer and climate change a reality of human activity. Maybe you see the imbalance in our round globe, the result of our population shifting. By 2050, more people will be living in Asia than live in the world today. The global food supply will be increasingly impacted by these shifts and we must play our role as dietitians in supporting sustainable practices to healthily feed the generations to come. 

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Here is the next image, how does it make you feel? Can we get the balance right between humans and technology?  Do you see the futuristic take on da Vinci’s drawing, in 2050 could our bodies be part nature, part science? Trends data tell us that we are headed for a reality of sensors and robotics.  With FitBit the most popular app in 2015, are health sensors inside our bodies such a stretch of the imagination? I can imagine nanosensors in our bodies detecting micronutrient deficiencies and then releasing controlled amounts of these nutrients in real time. Progress like this in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology and neuroscience will transform our science-based profession over the next 35 years. Health will increasingly move into the individuals hands and they will choose which health professionals have access to their data. For those of us working in food industry, this data will be the foundation for food product innovation that truly meets individuals physical health needs. Here new collaborations between clinical and food industry dietitians will be formed

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This is image 3, what do you think?  Just as the division between our personal and professional life continues to blur, so too will our real and virtual worlds.  Like Wikapeadia has replaced the Encyclopedia, the cloud networked super computer will eventually replace the laptop. Maybe one day just a thought will be enough for our always-on connection to be created. As nutrition communicators, food industry dietitians in 2050 will reach consumers in ways far beyond packaging and advertising.  And our better educated, more connected consumer activist will demand even greater transparency about our company practices. Maybe through self-programmed filtering out of today’s nutrition noise, the stage will be set for a powerful collaboration between dietitians in public health and the industry to cut through nutrition confusion and instantaneously reach our entire nation to create behavior change. 

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Image 4, where does it take you?  By 2050 Australians will be working and living longer – pretty much every one of us will know someone who is over 100 years old. Maybe you see yourself, both today and in the future. Today’s food industry dietitian guides marketing to ensure the nutrition messages are credible and develops nutrition information panels that are accurate. We steer food product development in the direction of more nutrition. But maybe most importantly we are accountable for the forward looking nutrition strategy of our business. Our success in positively influencing the food supply depends on two critical factors; our nutrition expertise and our abilities to lead change. The biggest shift I have seen in industry over the last 15 years is the way nutrition has become a leadership rather than a service function. Dietitians have moved from the call centre to the boardroom. In the tough corporate environment, dietitians need to be strong and persuasive advocates for healthier products while also being commercially aware. Leadership roles in the corporate world need people like us, we need to lead the change we wish to see in the food supply from the inside.  

With the momentum behind the health and wellness trend, we can be optimistic about the future because our professional skills and training will be increasingly valuable.  In a commercial world, the consumer is king, and the more consumers value nutritious products, the more food industry will create them.I see a future where food industry dietitians are the marketers leading transparent two-way dialogues with consumers. I also see us driving the product development work that realizes our innovation and renovation strategies. This may not look like public health to some, but positively impacting the food supply is what got me into industry and seeing my work impact on millions of Australians every day is what keeps me there.  

So, what do you hope to have created by 2050? The recipe for creating is clear, it starts with imagination and it ends with action. I hope you feel inspired to imagine things in a different way and motivated to take those action steps in bringing your vision into reality. As a profession we need to challenge ourselves to do a better job of leveraging each other strengths. Nutrition and science knowledge is not enough if we want to transform ourselves from experts to leaders of change. 35 years is a long time in a young profession and 2050 will be a very different Australia. No matter what setting you work in, I encourage you to imagine big so that we can collectively drive towards a healthier Australia. Creating public health change is after all what lies at the heart and purpose of our profession.