Course participant Dr Elisa Pineda (pictured) – a Research Fellow with the School of Public Health at Imperial College, London – has put the content she learned into practice to inform a retail intervention she is developing for a rapidly expanding supermarket chain in her native Mexico.

“What I learnt has really propelled me forward; the course was so useful and inspiring. It has been extremely helpful in planning my own healthy food retail intervention,” she said.

“I was really interested to learn the evidence on what works (in interventions to transform retail food environments) and I found the information specific, practical and evidence based.”

The ‘Transforming Retail Food Environments to Be Health-Enabling’ professional development short-course was offered online through Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, in partnership with RE-FRESH, in Semester 2.

The learning package included pre-reading, quizzes, videos and weekly live two-hour online workshops with world leaders in this research field. It combined theory and practice, with a focus on case studies for real-world application.

The nine-week course was aimed at those who can directly influence food retail environments for health, such as public health practitioners/health promotion professionals, local government officers, dieticians, nutritionists, public health policy makers and researchers.  An extended 12-week version of the course was also offered as the equivalent of a Masters’ level unit, allowing participants to complete an assessed version and apply for credit towards a Master of Public Health.

There were 19 participants in 2022 from Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, and overseas from Fiji, Vietnam and the UK. This included several people working in public health policy at a state government level and dieticians working to introduce healthy food interventions.

Dr Pineda said that in addition to the interaction with real-world researchers, she loved the connections the course provided with others working in this specialty.

“It has introduced me to the world experts in this field and to others in research and policy who are passionate about this work,” she said.

“It was really enriching to have people from various sectors come together to collaborate. Through the course I have identified people who are doing similar work and made connections – one of whom is now working on a project with me.”

Short-course director Julie Brimblecombe – a Chief Investigator with RE-FRESH and an Associate Professor with Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food – said the diversity of countries and health-related backgrounds of participants was testament to the course’s real-world appeal.

“We are extremely proud that we can offer a high-quality short course of this niche nature that offers knowledge and skills transferable to the real-life settings in which people are working and striving to help their communities.

“To see the impact our course participants are already making from their participation is very rewarding. Having a workforce equipped to enact change in healthy food retail is paramount for the health of all citizens and I am personally so pleased to have a role in this.”



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