Feeeed meeee – food addiction researcher Tracy Burrows joins Real Scientists

This week we are excited to welcomTracy-Burrows_270x197_Puble Tracy Burrows (@DrTracyBurrows) as our curator. Tracy is Senior lecturer in the School of Health Sciences (Nutrition and Dietetics), in the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia. Tracy is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian. Tracy has expertise in the areas of the assessment of dietary intake, obesity treatment and conducting high quality research trials. More recently she has initiated investigation into the area of food addiction. More about Tracy in her own words below!

I actually started out studying engineering and then mid way through I swapped degrees to Nutrition and Dietetics. I wanted to be able to help people and make a difference in their lives. I started a Phd to determine the most effective way to treat child obesity and to determine how to most accurately assess someones dietary intake. After completing a PhD I started in an academic role so I get to train new health professionals and still work in research on the evidence base to ensure what we do as a profession continues to make a difference in the most effective and meaningful way.

Dietetics is an amazing profession! We are trained in so many different areas which most people don’t realise and we can make a difference in so many health conditions. From a research perspective nutrition related research is actually quite young compared to other areas of science, so there’s is lots still to discover and improve…exciting times!
My research in dietetics is quite science based and employs a range of different analytical methods and tools such as nutritional biomarkers of carotenoids which can reflect fruit and vegetable intake, red blood cell membrane fatty acids to reflect fat intake and more recently clinical brain imaging such as fMRI to determine how peoples brains respond to different foods.

My research work really centers around three areas: Dietary assessment and validation methods, management of obesity across the lifespan with a focus on kids and food addiction. Obesity is a major health issue affecting over 60% of Australian adults, costing more than $21 billion each year in direct health care and substantially more in indirect costs. Many weight loss interventions are shown to be moderately effective in the short-term, but benefits are often transient as many individuals regain some, if not all, of their lost body weight. There is an imperative for more effective approaches to obesity treatment. My research investigates food addiction as a possible explanation for the excess weight gain of the obese and their weight loss failures. Everyone eats food everyday and dietary intake is one of the leading causes of morbidity.

Everyone wants to feel the best they can and diet is key to this.

However it is a bit challenging sometimes with a changing food environment and an increased availability of convenience foods it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is the best thing to eat so we are here to help with that!

Interesting extracurricular obligations? Being a working parent always keeps things interesting!

My ideal day is spending the day at home with the with no obligations or commitments to be anywhere. The beaches in Newcastle are amazing so if the weather is fine, a visit to the beach would usually be included in the ‘ideal’ day :)

 

Please welcome Tracy to Real Scientists!

 

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