School of Food and Nutrition researcher celebrated in second World Changers Essay Collection

The Faculty of Environment’s Dr Anvesha Mahendra has been included in the collection. She discusses how important maternal nutrition is, even before conception.

The World Changers Collection II is a series of essays by University of Leeds researchers across faculties and schools. They write about their ground-breaking research and the insights they’ve gained.

The essays all relate to the University of Leeds’ ten-year plan which focuses on climate, addressing health inequalities, collaboration not competition, and the student experience.

A perfect recipe to make healthy future generations? How our mothers’ diets affect our future health

In her essay, Dr Anvesha Mahendra highlights the work she has completed in India and the UK in child and parental nutrition.

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Dr Anvesha Mahendra introduces her essay.

Female babies will form their life’s worth of reproductive eggs while in utero, so Dr Mahendra explains that nutrition will not only affect the growing baby but also their future children years and years later.

Dr Mahendra writes:

As a nutritional epidemiologist, I strongly believe that investing in maternal nutrition can benefit many lifetimes.

The essay covers what led Dr Mahendra to study nutrition in pregnancy, including first-hand experience working in maternity clinics. This developed her understanding of maternal and child health problems such as gestational diabetes and low birth weight babies, which she says nutrition could be the key to managing.

However, it’s not as straightforward as telling pregnant people to eat more nutritious diets. Dr Mahendra notes that there are many obstacles to this, in part because there are already so many pressures during pregnancy.

On top of this, she explains that socio-economic backgrounds play a part in how diverse somebodies diet is. Strategies to improve people’s diets can’t be generalised, because ethnic groups and populations vary in their nutrient requirements, culture and food habits, and genetic predispositions to conditions like diabetes.

To create support throughout communities, Dr Mahendra has shared her insights with health professionals, medical and city councils, food industries, non-governmental organisations and the public.

The University of Leeds’ ten-year strategy includes making a positive difference in the world as well as supporting the next generation of global citizens and leaders. Dr Mahendra’s research is key to this – to produce the next generation of leaders, we must ensure we can produce healthy future generations to begin with.

Read the full World Changers essay here

World Changers collection II

The World Changers essay collection celebrates the transformative research that is taking place at the University of Leeds.

The collection is a testament to the dedicated efforts of our community to help create a fairer future for all – working through collaboration to reduce inequalities and enact meaningful and lasting societal change.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Leeds

Other essays in the collection include reflections on co-production of studies in “In it together: where research and real world experience meet” by By Cara Gates, Kate Farley and Natalie Mark, and discovering ways to queer the curriculum in “Writing queer history: uncovering hidden pasts for a more inclusive future” by Dr Rosie Ramsden.

See the full World Changers collection II here