Family & Community Medicine
“Family doctors are asked many questions about healthy nutrition during early childhood but evidence-based answers are often lacking,” says Nav Persaud.
Persaud’s goal is to help generate new childhood nutrition knowledge, so that doctors like himself can give families evidence-based advice that improves their children’s health and development.
Persaud is a physician at St. Michael's Hospital and an associate scientist in the Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. His research focuses on helping people make better health-related decisions, such as modifying their eating behaviours. He is also a member of the Applied Research Group for Kids (TARGet Kids!), led by Patricia Parkin, Catherine Birken, and Jonathon Maguire.
In a recent study, Persaud, together with his TARGet Kids! colleagues, found a connection between behaviours like watching TV while eating and poor indicators of health such as bad cholesterol levels. “Such research translates into a very practical piece of advice that family doctors and paediatricians can give to the families,” explains Persaud.
Persaud emphasizes the need to engage families, the public, and decision makers very early in any research endeavour. “I am glad that the TARGet Kids' practice-based research network has engaged patients right from the beginning. We have met with panels of patients and health-care providers to find out what are the most important questions in the care of children. The questions about nutrition were on the very top of that list.”
Persaud says that there are many knowledge gaps in childhood nutrition and development that demand researchers’ attention. Currently, families are bombarded with often conflicting messages on nutrition when they watch television or shop at grocery stores. He hopes to continue to explore how best to help parents determine what messages they can really trust when buying food for their families.
“We have to continue thinking about what are the best ways that are both feasible and affordable to provide nutritional information to families: is it counselling with family doctors, a brochure, an email reminder, a website, or, perhaps, an app?” he asks.
As a clinical researcher, Persaud has access to a lot of data about children’s eating behaviours and subsequent health outcomes. He is excited about the opportunity to partner with other researchers at the Lawson Centre to find novel ways to interpret this information and translate their findings into clinical and health systems applications for the benefit of all children and their families.
At a glance:
Nav Persaud, MD, MSc
- Enhancing the ability of primary care to address health inequities through the development and application of high quality evidence
- Associate Scientist, Keenan Research Centre of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital
- Assistant Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine, University of Toronto
- Staff Physician, Department of Family & Community Medicine, St. Michael's Hospital
Visit Nav’s profile on St. Michael's Hospital website for more information.