Student & ECR Spotlight – Georgia Middleton explores social eating environments and how they can be used to promote health behaviours in children and families

Please tell us about your career pathway to date (positions and institutes).

With a keen interest in food and nutrition, I completed my undergraduate and honours degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Flinders University in 2016. Following this, I volunteered in the hospital food service sector before working as a private practice dietitian across 14 sites in South Australia for just under two years. I maintained interest and experience in research over this time, as a casual research assistant conducting literature reviews, analysing data and co-authoring manuscripts. In 2018 I returned to Flinders University to undertake my PhD, focusing on the evolution of family meals over the last three decades. I completed my PhD in 2021, and have been working as a balanced academic at Flinders University since January 2022. 

What is your main research interest?
My main area of interest is in eating environments, specifically social eating occasions. Eating environments play a huge role in nutrition and health, and social eating occasions provide unique opportunities to promote physical and mental health and wellbeing for all who are involved. While my passion is children and family research, I am also involved in work that explores the power and opportunity of social eating in other population groups.

What are the main barriers you encounter/experience when conducting research, or what information/skills do you lack to conduct high quality research?
A main barrier I continuously encounter when conducting research is accessing diversity in participant samples. I am always looking for new and creative ways to recruit participants who are not often included, and therefore their perspectives and experiences not often captured, in nutrition research, particularly in the context of children and families. This results in a very one-sided understanding of many nutrition and health topics and problems. With the knowledge we have of the different barriers and challenges to health faced by different population groups, it is beyond frustrating that we are not able to capture the diversity of experiences required to make effective change for multiple population groups.

Given unlimited funding, what would your dream research
project be?
My dream research
project would be to co-design a longitudinal family meal intervention with a
truly diverse population of families, to see how we can best use the family
meal to promote health and wellbeing for all children and families.


If you would like to get in touch with Georgia, you can do so via e-mail [email protected], Twitter @GeorgiaMids, or LinkedIn Georgia Middleton