Dr Smita Nambiar-Mann

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Research Fellow, Centre for Childhood Nutrition Research

Dr Smita Nambiar-Mann is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with over 15 years experience in clinical dietetics (private practice), research (industry & academia) and teaching. Smita is passionate about paediatric nutrition, particularly in relation to the prevention of childhood obesity. Her career in dietetics began as a research dietitian for the Healthy Kids Queensland: Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey where she lead one of five teams to collect anthropometry, nutrition and physical activity information from children aged 5-17 years across the state. She was also the lead dietitian who trained research assistants on dietary data collection and oversaw the entry and coding of over 2500 dietary records. Following this, she received the University of Queensland Joint Research Scholarship to complete a PhD. She used data from this survey to validate the waist-height ratio as a measure of abdominal adiposity in children and developed cut-offs to classify high abdominal adiposity. She used these new cut-offs to explore associations between the waist-height ratio and breastfeeding, consumption of non-core foods,  parental perception of body weight and risk of metabolic syndrome. Throughout the PhD candidature, Smita kept up her clinical skills by managing her own private practice. She also worked as a research dietitian on another study called NOURISH. This RCT provided first-time mothers with anticipatory guidance on responsive feeding practices. Children were followed from birth to 5 years old and data on anthropometry, food intake, child eating behaviour and parental feeding practices were collected. Following completion of her PhD, Smita took on a postdoc position at QUT, coordinated the last two years of NOURISH and was involved in conducting two pilot studies – Eating in the Absence of Hunger and Nourish for Formula Feeders.

Most recently, Smita had the opportunity to take on an industry position in Singapore. In her role as a nutrition scientist, Smita advised on the dietary assessment component of clinical trials in Singapore and across Asia. She also developed simple dietary assessment tools for the company to use in young children. One of these tools was a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire which was the first of its kind for Singapore. After four years abroad, Smita returned to Brisbane and commenced at QUT as a full-time academic. Smita predominantly teaches first-year units and supervises Honours, Masters & PhD students. She was recently recognised as Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

At QUT, Smita plans to continue research in paediatric nutrition where her skills in nutrition assessment, dietary methodology, child eating behaviours and parental feeding practices can be utilised.