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Nutrition researcher honoured with Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award

Published:30 August 2022

Dr Saman Khalesi with Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham

Dr Saman Khalesi with Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham

Research that aims to help consumers make informed food choices has led to CQUniversity’s Dr Saman Khalesi being honoured with a 2022 Young Tall Poppy (YTP) Science Award.

Dr Khalesi, who is a National Heart Foundation (NHF) funded Postdoctoral Fellow and a Senior Lecturer and Discipline Lead in Nutrition at CQUniversity, said he was thrilled to receive the award.

“To be worthy to receive a Tall Poppy Award is a dream come true for any scientist and researcher,” Dr Khalesi said.

“As researchers, we focus so much on the scientific output that we often forget about our research translation and impact,” he said.

Dr Khalesi’s current research focusses on nutrition and health misinformation.

“Nutrition misinformation remains an enormous public health challenge, risking the overall health and expenditure of consumers,” Dr Khalesi said.

“Unscientific claims about fad diets, dietary elimination, extracts and supplements can lead to dangerous side effects. This can have serious health consequences for individuals with specific dietary needs and medical conditions.

“A celebrity endorses a new diet and all of a sudden everyone is following the diet. This is a simple example of diet misinformation with a high potential for adverse health outcomes.”

Dr Khalesi said that if people are not equipped with the knowledge to identify such scams, they may follow a diet or advice that could be harmful.

“If people have access to online personalised coaching programs that can provide them with evidence-based dietary information to fact-check dietary claims, they will have the tools necessary to detect misinformation.

“I am hoping that my research and this award can draw attention to the importance of dietary communication to empower consumers with the knowledge and tools to make food choices informed by scientific evidence.”

Dr Khalesi said the YTP recognition would not have been possible without the support of a strong team behind him.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support I have received from my mentor, Professor Corneel Vandelanotte and the great team at CQUniversity.”

Dr Khalesi provided some sound advice to fellow young, aspiring scientists.

“Surround yourself with positive and helpful people and give back as much as you can. The academic world is all about collaboration, choose your collaborators wisely.”

Dr Khalesi was presented with his 2022 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award at the official Australian Institute of Policy and Science ceremony on Monday, 29 August.