Last week, Simone had a phone call with Anne Mullen, Nutrition Scientist and Chief Editor Nature Food. Both know each other since many years - Simone asked Anne about her objectives regarding the future of nutrition.
Anne, you are the Chief Editor of Nature Food - a new journal that will be released in January 2020 - can you describe what you are responsible for?
Let me begin by describing Nature Food. It’s predicted that there will be 10 billion people inhabiting the planet in 2050 - we must have secure access to nutritious diets for all, and our activity must sustain rather than deplete planetary resources. We have excellent and well-established research in a great number of disciplines that relate to food. With Nature Food, we want to provide the food community – including researchers, industry and policy-makers - with a high-quality thematic resource for joined-up thinking on global food challenges and their solutions. Nature Food will be an online journal publishing research, reviews and comment on all aspects of food production, processing, distribution and consumption that contribute to sustaining human and planetary health. Our content will be from across the natural, applied and social sciences. As Chief Editor, I am a facilitator. My team and I have the honour of establishing and stewarding this platform for researchers and policy-makers in the food community. My responsibility is to ensure that the vision, aims and scope of Nature Food are initially set, adapt with the needs of the community, and stay on course for progress towards food and nutrition security. My responsibility is to ensure top-tier original research is published, discussed and debated in a meaningful way by stakeholders in Nature Food.
You are passionate about responsibility and decision-making in nutrition. Why is this important for our future (society)?
I’m not a social scientist, but I have always been fascinated by questions of role, responsibility and decision-making in nutrition and food. You are probably very familiar with the organisation structure of your workplace - you know what responsibilities you have, who you report to and who has sign-off on things like annual leave requests, requisitions, health & safety reports. This delineation of responsibilities helps an organisation run efficiently. There are food and nutrition challenges where responsibility for decision-making can lie with the consumer and other instances where the responsibility for decision-making can be taken by policy-makers. We have many good and bad examples of these in practice, and there are fascinating studies on risk analysis and decision-making that inform the area. With the immense challenges we face in global food security and the many food system stakeholders (in fact, everyone is a stakeholder!), interdisciplinary co-ordination is essential for our food future – as is a clear indication of roles, responsibilities and decision-making.
I want a strong, organised approach to global nutrition and food challenges, and I see Nature Food as having a role in facilitating that.
How is Nature Food contributing that future generations eat healthier and more sustainable?
Nature Food will be a platform for top-tier research and comment on achieving food and nutrition security. The broad scope can be summarised as all aspects of food production, processing, distribution and consumption that contribute to sustaining human and planetary health. The community of authors and readers Nature Food serves is multidisciplinary and influential - researchers, industry and policy-makers. Nature Food will be an important scientific resource and forum for discussion for those working to ensure ours and future generations have access to food, nutritious and sustainable diets.
What is nutrition in one sentence?
Nutrition is a labyrinth of life, applied and social science – it is endlessly fascinating and I expect once you start to chase answers in nutrition science, you’ll never really stop running.
In which field nutrition experts are really really good in?
First of all, nutrients! We know about nutrients in food, how those nutrients are assimilated and metabolised by the body, and how those nutrients relate to health and disease. A nutrition expert really knows their stuff! It goes without saying that a nutrition expert is well-versed in molecular, clinical and public health nutrition. But I think nutrition experts tend to be very good at communication and have made a huge impact as spokespeople in public health – not only do nutrition experts have strong scientific backgrounds, they tend to be excellent at making sense of science for the public.
Do you have a role model and how does this role model inspire you?
There are quite a few people in nutrition, that inspire me. I have huge admiration for those who are knowledgeable and wise, who communicate with conviction, and who have boundless energy in leadership roles. I am inspired by those leaders who are also ‘people-people’ - generous as they can be with their time, encouraging of those around them, ‘have your back’ when you need support, and aren’t afraid to inject a little humour into situations. My role models often actually come from diverse backgrounds such as biochemistry, agricultural science, medicine and social sciences – but long-established as ‘nutrition experts’, and perhaps drawn specifically to nutrition because of compassion and pragmatism?
What do you like about Nutrition Hub?
What I love about Nutrition Hub is that, like Nature Food, it is also a platform for facilitating connections. It is a meeting place for experts and interested communities, putting the right people together for action!