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Sarah Dash

Sarah is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow currently based in Toronto, Canada at Ontario Tech University, and is an honourary member of the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University. Her primary research interests include lifestyle factors and their association with physical and mental health.

As part of her doctoral work, Dr Dash was involved in the Food & Mood Centre’s SMILES trial and has since completed work examining the relationship between lifestyle-associated risk factors and chronic disease among Australian adults, as part of the Australian Health Survey. Her current research focuses on barriers and facilitators to health-promoting factors, including diet and exercise, among Canadians, with the aim of informing and developing public health strategies that improve access to quality diet and physical activity. Sarah is also interested in science communication, cooking, travelling, and playing sport.

Dr Dash is currently involved in several research projects:

Diet and mental health during emerging adulthood: A systematic review

  • While research has consistently reported the association between diet and depression in adult populations, this relationship in emerging adults has not yet been explored. Emerging adulthood (18-29 years) is an important developmental period, both from a physiological and behavioural perspective. Evidence suggests that emerging adulthood (EA) is an important window of opportunity for dietary intervention public mental health initiatives, however, this group is often overlooked.

This systematic review will address gaps in understanding among EA’s, based on available literature on the association between habitual diet quality and mental health outcomes in this group. Findings of this work will inform future research and public health strategies targettied at the prevention of depression and anxiety.


Barriers and facilitators to health behaviours (health-promoting diet and sport participation)

  • There is a great deal of literature demonstrating the importance of diet and physical activity in the prevention of both physical disease and mental disorders. Despite this, there are many barriers to access and uptake of these lifestyle factors. As part of her postdoctoral work overseas (Ontario Tech University), Sarah is working concurrently on two projects, i) Barriers and facilitators to physician-provided dietary advice for patients with hypertension and ii) Examining and addressing constraints to sport participation among ethnically-diverse female adolescents in Ontario. Broadly, these projects aim to understand the challenges to health behaviours within existing systems, in order to inform new strategies that improve access to diet and physical activity through sport.


Research areas and skills:Public health nutrition, nutritional psychiatry, physical activity