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Researcher Spotlight: Kathryn Backholer


Professor Kathryn Backholer is Co-Director of the Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition at Deakin University. Her research is focused on the intersections of equity and the commercial determinants of health, and the application of interdisciplinary solutions to complex public health problems. Kathryn has collaborated with several esteemed organisations in India, incuding UNICEF India, to build evidence for policy and programs improving adolescent health.

What are you working on right now?

Many things! My main projects relate to harmful digital marketing, such as the promotion of  unhealthy food, tobacco, e-cigarettes, gambling and alcohol. We are exploring how governments can use artificial intelligence technologies to monitor these practices and potentially regulate them. I’m also involved in several projects that seek to understand how public health policy can not only improve population health but also reduce the unacceptable health inequities we currently see in society.

How are you collaborating with colleagues in India?

Most of my work in India is through the ‘Let’s Fix Our Food’ initiative, where I have been fortunate to work with UNICEF India, The Public Health Foundation of India, the National Institute of Nutrition and the Institute for Economic Growth. My focus is on preventative measures for adolescents who are overweight or obese in South Asia.

What’s the best part of your work?

I love the people I get to work with each day!

Everyone brings a unique perspective and experience to how we can work to improve population health across the globe. It’s very cool to be able to work with so many interesting, caring and insightful people.

Who is your favourite Indian activist?

I just love Dr Kiran Martin – Founder and Director of the Asha Society. Her work, bringing hope and inclusion to Indian slums, is nothing short of amazing. I love listening to her speak and reading about her work – she is inspirational, empathetic and a true leader.

I also very much enjoy working with Dr Vani Sethi from UNICEF ROSA  – an inspiration and a powerhouse for nutrition in India and across South Asia.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Surf, run, garden, cook and explore, and just generally hanging out with my family.

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