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UK and Ireland Regional Network Launch

Brighton, 6th November 2019

By Marjorie Lima do Vale and Jorgen Johnsen

Edited by Dr Kathy Martyn and Prof Sumantra Ray

Acknowledgements: Elaine MacAninch, Dr Minha Rajput-Ray, Nikitah and Matheus Abrantes

Malnutrition, in its many forms, negatively impacts individuals, families and communities as well as posing significant challenges to healthcare systems. The NNEdPro Global Centre for Nutrition is committed to making a key contribution towards the global campaign to end malnutrition by 2030, in line with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals agenda and UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), by addressing nutritional inequities while undertaking good quality research and training professionals in nutrition and health. This complex set of tasks, however, it's not meant to be taken by no one single organization, it requires collaboration across different sectors in society.

On November 6th, ERimNN (Education and Research in medical Nutrition Network) in collaboration with NNEdPro Culinary Medicine and Nutritank, organised the 1st NNEdPro UK Regional Network meeting and the 2nd Brighton Nutrition Showcase. The meeting took place in Brighton, UK and brought together individuals and organisations across the UK to present exemplary initiatives on nutrition and foster future collaborations. The event served as the official launch of the NNEdPro Regional Network of UK and Ireland, the annual meeting for which will be held in Brighton. In addition, there will be section meetings in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The network will host the Nutrition Implementation Coalition, which is a strategic alliance between NNEdPro, ERimNN, Nutritank and Culinary Medicine UK and was also officially announced at the event. For further information about the coalition click here.

The network meeting incorporated ERimNN’s 2nd Brighton Nutrition Showcase hosted at the Brighton and Sussex Medical school (BSMS) and supported by the University of Brighton and NNEdPro. The night started with the presentation of the programme ‘An Apple a Day’, led by medical students at BSMS. As part of the programme, medical students deliver nutrition lessons to 11-12y olds in a local school. Medical students that participate in the programme not only become more knowledgeable and skilled in nutrition topics, but most importantly, they get a chance to empower adolescents to make healthier decisions in terms of eating. The initiative is mentored by ERimNN and NNEdPro members Elaine Macaninch (RD) and Kathy Martyn.(RN RNutr) and is supported by the University of Brighton Active Student volunteering scheme. There has been growing interest from medical students and the number of medical students engaged as mentors on the programme has grown from 4 to 15 since its conception.

Another student led initiative presented in the showcase was Nutritank, a think tank originating in Bristol founded by Iain Broadley and Ally Jaffee and now present across 20 medical schools in the UK. Nutritank aims to increase nutrition and lifestyle education in the curriculum of medical students. Nutritank also collaborates with Culinary Medicine UK (CMUK).

Elaine Macaninch explained more on the concept behind CMUK. This team is composed of multi-professionals including doctors, dietitians, chefs and psychologists. The aim is to teach the foundations of clinical nutrition to medical students and health professionals through a combination of online theoretical components and using the kitchen as a classroom, cooking eating and discussing food to build empathy and clinical communication skills to address the many barriers to making dietary change. Also to promote a multiprofessional approach to nutrition interventions sensitive to the needs of our patients, working across professional boundaries but appreciating when to refer on to nutrition professionals such as dietitians.

Dr Jenny Blythe from the Queen Mary University, then introduced the ‘Bags of Taste’ programme that also aims to improve nutritional medical education. Bags of Taste is a cooking and dietary behaviour change model located at 11 local boroughs in the UK. Medical students from the Queen Mary University of London participated in one of the culinary classes led by Bags of Taste. They learned not only about nutrition, but also about behaviour change theories and poverty and its complexities.

Emily O'Brien, from the Brighton & Hove Food partnership, outlined the complexities of food poverty in Brighton and the city wide initiative that aims is to make healthy, sustainable and fair food available for all. Their food strategy plan for 2018-2023 has engaged almost 100 partners. One of their projects is a community kitchen where people can learn to cook on a budget. One of the discussions during the Q&A were the challenges in meeting deprived individuals and communities where they are currently in terms of resources and skills.

Continuing the discussions around challenges in nutrition from the client/patient perspective, Heather Duff, shared her experiences in following a strict diet protocol, the paleo protocol, which was “a weird, wonderful and expensive experience”. Heather talked about the (un)feasibility and (un)sustainability of strict diets. In addition to the potential negative impact of such diets on individuals’ mental health. For her, being supported by a nutritionist was key in dealing with the plethora of information available. She also highlighted how difficult it was to discuss food and nutrition with her doctors.

Sandeepa Soni, an oncology dietitian and Chris Smith, a paediatric dietitian, discussed their experiences and challenges in providing the best treatment for patients. Issues such as uncertainties in the face of emerging evidence and patient’s difficulties in keeping up with prescribed treatments were covered.

As the last speaker, Prof Sumantra Ray, NNEdPro Founding Chair and Executive Director, outlined work to date and the future steps to of the Regional Network in supporting. The Nutrition Implementation Coalition will provide steering to the UK and Ireland Network, seeking to deliver on the main objectives of the regional network including the NEPHELP (Nutrition Education Policy for Healthcare Practice) and MTK (Mobile Teaching Kitchen) initiatives as well as providing key UK and Ireland inputs to I-KANN-25 (International Knowledge Application Network in Nutrition 2025) which joins together all of NNEdPro’s Regional Networks across the globe.

The night ended with Nikitah, the NNEdPro Junior Ambassador, inviting all attendees to support the upcoming MTK fundraising event, ‘The Confluence’ which explores a new but important theme within NNEdPro pertaining to climate change, sustainability and food security.

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