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Awards for dietetic excellence announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Three dietitians received top Awards last night at the New Zealand Dietetic Association's annual conference in Christchurch.

Dunedin researcher and private practice dietitian Alwyn Todd is the first ever recipient of the NZDA Unilever Scholarship - a generous award of $10,000 annually for up to four years practice-based research that develops and extends the evidence base in the area of cardiovascular disease. It also allows dietitians who are recipients of the award to continue their practice while carrying out research.

Alwyn's focus is on the role of nutrition in disease prevention. She is currently running a clinical study looking at how much salt people have in their diets and how their blood vessels are functioning - the results of the study will be written up as her PhD ‘The impact of dietary sodium chloride intake on arterial wall function in normotensive and hypertensive subjects, a randomised controlled cross over intervention study’.

'One in three New Zealanders now has high blood pressure,' says Alwyn. 'Most New Zealanders consume over double the recommended intake of salt each day (guidelines for disease prevention now recommend a maximum intake of 4 g/day and, in New Zealand, we consume approximately 9g/day).'

'Our study is designed to assess the effect of different levels of salt on blood vessel function in people with normal and high blood pressure. This study will provide information on how much salt in our diets is actually harmful in terms of blood vessel function. It also looks at whether dietary change can improve people's blood pressure, and the degree of benefit dietary change may have,' she says.

Amber Parry Strong, research dietitian at the Wellington School of Medicine is the recipient of the Neige Todhunter Award. The award, which provides funding for dietitians to extend their academic career with post graduate research, will enable Amber to complete her PhD in Human Nutrition on Type 2 Diabetes and Weight Loss.

The aim of her study is to assess whether a high-protein:moderate carbohydrate diet is more effective than a low fat:high carbohydrate diet in reducing weight and maintaining weight loss and improving glycaemic control, insulin sensitivity, lipid profile and blood pressure without adverse effects in subjects with type 2 diabetics.

This is Amber’s second award; in 2003 she was the Nestle Young Achiever. She is in private practice, an advisor to the NZ Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), and has worked as a nutrition consultant to the Dairy Goat Co-operative and Sportswide Fitness Centre.

Auckland dietitian Kristin Leaity is this year's Nestle Young Achiever which is given to a dietitian who, within five years of registration, excels in an aspect of dietetic practice beyond the usual requirements of their job.

Kristin has developed a number of dietetic related initiatives in both New Zealand and Australia after first gaining experience as a new graduate dietitian in clinical dietetics at Auckland City Hospital during which time she helped develop an enteral feeding audit tool for quality assurance which is now a bi-annual audit activity for the Hospital's department.

Currently National Dietitian for the New Zealand Compass Group, Kristin has implemented the ‘Taste Life’ health and wellness programme into school, retail and residential sectors of the community, as well as a Diet Care programme for aged care sites - a complete programme of resources specific to senior living, to ensure nutrition needs of residents are met within financial guidelines.

'This is an outstanding achievement for a dietitian who, within the first five years of qualifying, is recognised and respected as a nutrition and dietetic expert in programmes that influence the nutrition of a significant number of New Zealanders,' says Sandy Clemett, President of the New Zealand Dietetic Association. 'Kristin’s contribution to the profession, both at a local and national level, over the four years since her registration has been exemplary.'

Three Education Trust Awards were also presented to Nelson consultant dietitian Annette Nistor; Ruth Newsome-White, dietitian specializing in older persons' health with the Canterbury District Health Board; and to Kaye Dennison, dietitian with Middlemore Hospital's community based rehabilitation team.

ENDS

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