University of Newcastle looking for families to take part in online nutrition project

ACCESS: Researcher Dr Amy Ashman is looking for Tamworth and Armidale families to take part in a online nutrition project.
ACCESS: Researcher Dr Amy Ashman is looking for Tamworth and Armidale families to take part in a online nutrition project.

TELE-HEALTH could be seen as the panacea for the tyranny of distance which once plagued rural health.

More specialities are using digital technology to bridge the health gap often seen in rural communities and dietetics and nutrition are no exception.

Families from Tamworth and Armidale are being urged to sign up for the “nutrition connect” program helping kids get  nutritional advice at home.

The project is being run by Armidale-based academic, Amy Ashman, who said it would get nutritional advice into communities that need it, while dispelling the wealth of misinformation online.

“There’s already a lot of resources available online,” Dr Ashman told The Leader.

“But there is also a lot of misinformation out there.

“If you put ‘nutrition’ into a search engine, you’ll get a lot of hits, but not all of it is accurate and reliable.”

The online program run by the University of Newcastle is for families with children aged five to 11 seeking to improve their nutrition.

If eligible, they’ll get access to two tele-health consults with a dietitian, access to a purpose built interactive website with recipes and videos on how to prepare meals and resources for sticking to goals, as well as a Facebook support group.

Dr Ashman said there was a need to increase access to nutrition experts with “one quarter of children in Australia overweight or obese”, while only three hospitals in NSW with child weight management specialists.

Leanne Brown is a dietitian and lecturer at the Tamworth Department of Rural Health agreed there was a need get expert advice to more people and tele-health was a useful tool in the medicine bag now.

BRIDGING THE GAP: Leanne Brown sees tele-health creating more access to dietitians. Photo: Gareth Gardner

BRIDGING THE GAP: Leanne Brown sees tele-health creating more access to dietitians. Photo: Gareth Gardner

“It overcomes issues of distance,” Dr Brown said.

“There’s a need to make dietitians more accessible and it’s a technical way to bridge that gap.”

Dr Brown said it would help do away with health misinformation online.

“You can access expert, individualised information in a way that’s is readily available,” she said.

Families can express their interest in the program online, or contacting Dr Ashman directly at 0488 399 533