ABOVE: Jasmine Chan presents to the NUTRISS department at Laval University, Canada, on her research exploring healthy food retail and food industry nutrition actions.
Jasmine Chan, an Associate Research Fellow from the Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE), Deakin University, has a research focus on benchmarking food company policies and practices on nutrition and exploring ways to improve their nutrition-related actions. Supported by RE-FRESH Early-to-Mid-Career Knowledge Exchange funding, she travelled to Quebec City, Canada, for two weeks to work alongside the Canadian research team of the global BIA-Obesity initiative.
She shares her experience:
In September 2023, I headed to Quebec City, Canada, to work with Professor Lana Vanderlee and Masters student Alexa Gaucher-Holm of NUTRISS, Laval University, for a two-week knowledge exchange. The main aim of this trip was to collaborate on the BIA-Obesity study, which aims to assess the nutrition policies and actions of large food companies. Our team at GLOBE and their team at NUTRISS were conducting the assessments of company nutrition policies this year, meaning we can support each other to run our own country assessments. This visit built on the recent exchange of Laval University researcher Alexa Gaucher-Holm to GLOBE (Melbourne) in April 2023.
What did I do?
I spent two weeks progressing the BIA-Obesity study with Prof. Vanderlee and Alexa. We shared our approaches to engaging with food companies, challenges of the project and how we worked through them, and key lessons learnt so far. We also worked closely to collect data and score assessments of the same companies included in the Australian and Canadian studies. It was excellent to share ideas for knowledge dissemination and, more broadly, next steps and future projects for our work in this area. These discussions were made a lot easier by being in-person in the same time zone ̶ especially when shared over a pumpkin-spiced latte!
ABOVE: Alexa Gaucher-Holm (left) and Prof. Lana Vanderlee (right) with Jasmine Chan at NUTRISS.
I was also invited by Prof. Vanderlee to present to the broader nutrition department on our series of research projects exploring healthy food retail and food industry nutrition actions. I shared the range of projects we’d been working on at GLOBE which, beyond BIA-Obesity, included the REFORM randomised control trial and our recent collaboration with UNICEF and Norges Bank Investment Management on protecting children’s rights to nutrition in food retail environments.
What did I learn?
The trip was important for me to understand the Canadian team’s experience of conducting the BIA-Obesity study. While we were running the same project in our respective countries, it was invaluable to hear of different approaches needed to tailor the study to our country contexts – for example, to differing government and industry nutrition initiatives and market structures. The presentation was one of my first formal seminars I had given outside of the GLOBE audience, and a great opportunity (albeit slightly nerve-racking!) to develop presentation and speaking skills.
Final thoughts …
The two weeks flew by and was filled with many great experiences that will no doubt stay with me throughout my career. The knowledge exchange was an excellent opportunity to listen, share and ultimately strengthen links between our groups.
Many thanks to RE-FRESH for the opportunity, to Prof. Lana and Alexa for hosting me, and RE-FRESH Chief Investigator and GLOBE Co-Director Prof. Gary Sacks for supporting me to head off on this Knowledge Exchange!