The Agriculture, Food, Nutrition, Health Nexus

13-14 August 2018, Canberra

Dr Alessandro Demaio

Sandro trained and worked as a medical doctor at The Alfred Hospital in Australia. While practising as a doctor he completed a Master in Public Health including fieldwork in Cambodia.

In 2010, he relocated to Denmark where he completed a PhD with the University of Copenhagen, focusing on non-communicable diseases. His doctoral research was based in Mongolia, working with the Ministry of Health. He designed, led and reported a national epidemiological survey, sampling more than 3500 households.

Sandro held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard Medical School from 2013 to 2015, and was assistant professor and course director in global health at the Copenhagen School of Global Health, in Denmark. He also established and led the PLOS blog Global Health.

From November 2015 until April 2018, Sandro was Medical Officer for non-communicable conditions and nutrition with the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the global headquarters of the World Health Organization.

In April 2018, Sandro became Chief Executive Office of EAT: the science-based, global platform for food systems transformation.

In his pro bono work, Dr Demaio co-founded NCDFREE, a global social movement against non-communicable diseases using social media, short film and leadership events – reaching more than 2.5 million people in its first 18 months. In 2015, he founded festival21, assembling and leading a team of knowledge leaders in staging a massive and unprecedented, free celebration of community, food, culture and future in his hometown Melbourne.

Then in 2018 and funded through his media work with ABC TV and Pan MacMillan publishers, Sandro established an independent, not-for-profit foundation focused on improving the health and nutrition of Australians.

Dr Demaio currently co-hosts the ABC television show Ask the Doctor – an innovative and exploratory factual medical series broadcasting weekly across Australia.

To date, he has published 30 scientific papers and more than 90 articles. He is also the author of the Doctor’s Diet, a cookbook based on science and inspired by a love of good food.

Sandro is fascinated by systems-innovation and leadership; impact in a post-democracy; and externality-driven disease.

Feeding a growing global population with healthy food from a healthy planet


Food is fueling several of the major global challenges of our time. Current food systems fail one in two people worldwide and poor diets are now the leading risk factor for disease, globally. Food systems also represent a significant driver of environmental degradation. Yet because food cross-cuts the major health, environmental and sustainable development challenges of today, bending the curve of unhealthy, unsustainable food provides one of the greatest opportunities to achieve our Global Goals. Mounting research demonstrates the benefits of transforming our food systems, but a crucial next step is translating this research into action. This talk outlines some of the major linkages between food, people and the planet, and presents the coming EAT-Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems as well as the Lancet Series on the Double Burden of Malnutrition. The former will synthesise the best available science to define what constitutes a healthy diet globally and what sustainable food production looks like that preserves functional ecosystems, and the latter outlines the important opportunities for integrated action on malnutrition in all its forms.