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Doctors For Nutrition 2022: Year In Review

As another successful year draws to a close, we review the highlights and look ahead to growing our impact in 2023.

2022 continued to be a challenging year for many; we saw the ongoing repercussions of the global pandemic and frequent devastating weather events. The positive side of these hard times was that making conscious choices, for both ourselves and the planet, remained high on many people’s agenda.

On a climate action front we saw Australia pass the country’s first climate change legislation in more than a decade. May 2022 saw the release of Aotearoa New Zealand’s first Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), including a Māori ‘climate action platform’. COP27 negotiations in Egypt highlighted it was now crunch time for countries like Australia and New Zealand to step up and take urgent action at home. 8 in 10 Australians are concerned about climate change, seeking ways they can make a meaningful impact.

Fortunately, one way becoming universally acknowledged is turning to a plant-based diet. A recent study conducted by La Trobe University, Griffith University and Queensland University of Technology surveyed more than 3000 Australians about their views on diet and eating habits. 32% of participants said they had reduced their meat consumption in the past 12 months.

Another area that needs focus, and can be addressed through a healthful plant-based diet, is the ever present obesity epidemic. 2 in every 3 adults, and 1 in 4 children are overweight or obese in Australia, these numbers are mirrored in New Zealand. Without a significant improvement in these statistics we will see more chronic diseases and early death, greater vulnerability to infectious diseases and significant increase in health care costs. COVID-19 has shown that people with obesity or chronic diseases get sicker and are more likely to die from infectious diseases.

The urgent need for whole food plant-based nutrition has never been clearer, Doctors For Nutrition continues to strive to make this the norm.

2022 Year in Review

Once again it has been a busy and rewarding year at Doctors For Nutrition. We are humbled by all the supporters and allies who have joined us to champion the power of nutrition to transform healthcare.

We successfully launched an online nutrition training course, well received by the participants who were all general practitioners or medical students. The ‘Prescribing Nutrition’ course was approved as a CPD Activity with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

General Practice Conference and Exhibition Sydney
General Practice Conference and Exhibition Sydney
Australian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Conference
Australian Society of Lifestyle Medicine Conference
Adelaide Medical Students’ Society O'week Lunch
Adelaide Medical Students’ Society O'week Lunch

The team enjoyed being able to attend more face-to-face events again this year and ran a range of events over the course of the year, presenting and exhibiting at 7 health conferences and events across the country.

In August we launched a new website: it includes a distinct portal for health professionals and the general public, a new search functionality and expanded content. After 3 months, the time spent by visitors on the new site was up 56% versus the same period last year.

We also launched the ‘Find a clinician’ tool, a directory connecting the public with plant friendly health professionals. We look forward to the number of health professionals growing exponentially in 2023.

The team has been hard at work preparing for our upcoming conference: Nutrition in Healthcare 2023. This event, being held in Melbourne on 17-19 February 2023, will welcome global leaders in nutrition.

We continued to inform many thousands of people across the healthcare sector and wider community through educational webinars, resources, mainstream and social media.

See further details of the year’s achievements in the snapshots below, and read on to discover what’s in store for 2023.

NIHC logo

Growing our reach

In 2022 we:

  • Built our e-list to over 7,000 subscribers; gaining an average of 85 new subscribers every month.
  • Had 83,000 unique website page views; over 70% of which occurred following the launch of our new website, with our recipe collection and our NIHC23 conference pages proving highly popular.
  • Increased our social following to 16,425 across our social channels.
  • Continued providing our expert-opinion across a range of magazines, newspapers, radio, podcasts and websites.
  • Continued our regular contributions to Nourish Magazine, Aotearoa Vegan and Plant-Based Living, and NZ Vegetarian Magazine.
Growing our reach

Educational events

Online course: Teaching doctors and students how to prescribe nutrition

In 2022 we:

  • Piloted our new course Prescribing Nutrition in March 2022, then launched as an on-demand offering in November 2022.
  • 491 doctors, medical students and other healthcare professionals have received important knowledge and and practical tools on how to best introduce nutrition to their patients
  • 100% of those who participated said they felt more confident talking with patients about plant-based diets.
  • 70% of survey respondents did not identify as WFPB or vegan before the course commenced, meaning that the majority were not already familiar with plant-based diets and their benefits, including the positive impact on many common chronic diseases. 64% of respondents were inspired by the course to eat either slightly or significantly more whole plant foods, while another 30% were inspired to keep going with the changes they have already made.
Prescribing nutrition quote

Food Vitals Webinars

In 2022 we:

  • Became an approved CPD Education Provider with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.
  • Ran 4 CPD approved Food Vital Webinars, viewed more than 1280 times.
  • Topics included: ‘Sustainable and healthy eating patterns’, ‘Type 2 Diabetes: Reversal and Weight Loss’, ‘The role of nutrition in optimising men’s health’, and ‘Recovery from autoimmune conditions’.
  • More than 50% of webinar registrants had not attended a previous event or webinar hosted by Doctors For Nutrition—demonstrating we are reaching new audiences.
  • The majority of survey respondents indicated that the webinars had increased their confidence for discussing plant-based nutrition with patients, assessing diet, and making nutrition recommendations.

All the webinar recordings can be accessed freely via our Food Vitals web page.

Food Vitals Speakers for 2022 blog

Face-to-face events

In 2022 we:

  • More than 3000 Doctors For Nutrition resources were distributed to health professionals and medical students, including ‘Plant-based nutrition: A guide for health professionals’, patient handouts and meal plans.
  • Our team had 550+ face-to-face interactions with health professionals and medical students, many of whom were excited to hear about a charity promoting the important role of plant-based nutrition in healthcare.
  • Highlights included Dr Heleen Haitjema and Dr Peter Johnston presenting to an audience of medical students at the AMSA Global Health Conference, and supporting the AMSS to ditch their traditional sausage sizzle during O’week and replacing this with a sustainable plant-based lunch.

Fundraising

In 2022:

  • Ten plant-powered enthusiasts trekked through part of the Larapinta Trail to help raise awareness of whole food plant‑based nutrition:
    • The walk was led by the World Expeditions team, who prepared delicious whole food plant-based meals and snacks. The group raised $17,187 for Doctors For Nutrition to help continue our nutrition education programs for healthcare professionals.
Larapinta team
Marion Meloni and Dr Heleen Haitjema
Marion Meloni and Dr Heleen Haitjema
  • EthicalJobs.com.au offered us the opportunity to raise funds by matching up to $7,000 of donations received over the course of a week. Thanks to our generous donors, we exceeded our goal and raised $7,454 — turning that into a total of $14,454!

Agenda 2023

2023 will be a milestone year for us, holding our second Nutrition In Healthcare Conference (NIHC). Welcoming both international and local experts, the conference offers a program rich with evidence-based research and content exploring the relationship between diet and disease. Alongside two full days of academic sessions, the conference will also include a whole food plant-based menu, a social program, networking opportunities and an exhibition space.

Thanks in part to the generous support of the Center For Nutrition Studies, we have been able to offer our Prescribing Nutrition course on-demand. In 2023 we expect to reach 600 more healthcare professionals and medical students.

Other projects in the pipeline include: more educational events, both online and in person; new free web resources for health professionals; a forthcoming collection of whole food plant-based recipes with accompanying meal plan; a health professionals plant-based challenge and, more tools and support for those transitioning to a whole food plant-based diet.

We will also continue to engage with decision-makers across the spectrum of healthcare institutions to highlight the evidence for whole food plant based nutrition, with a key focus on the review of the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Alongside these projects we’ll be continuing to strengthen and grow alliances with other organisations, and seek impactful opportunities to gain traction for our messages about the science and practice of whole food plant-based nutrition for health.

From all of us at DFN, thank you for accompanying us on our mission. Here’s to a year ahead filled with action towards health and wellbeing through, both now and into the future.

Click here if you’d like to get involved in supporting our work or make a donation. Or if you’d like to meet face-to-face it is not too late to register for NIHC!

Team
Louisa C
Karyn O
Sarah W
Team 2
Alicia T
Marion M
Hannah O
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