Heather Keller, Schlegel Research Chair, Nutrition and Aging

University of Waterloo

Heather Keller RD PhD FDC FCAHS is the Schlegel Research Chair in Nutrition and Aging at the University of Waterloo. She is an internationally recognized expert in geriatric nutrition, assessment, and treatment. Research areas focus on nutrition risk and malnutrition identification and treatment across care sectors; improving nutrition care processes and implementing screening and other best practices; supporting food intake of diverse groups living in the community, including those living with dementia; and improving hospital and residential food and promoting food intake and the mealtime experience in these settings. Professor Keller has led several national research and knowledge translation projects, including the landmark Nutrition Care in Canadian Hospitals, More-2-Eat and Making the Most of Mealtimes in Long Term Care studies. Professor Keller has published more than 225 peer-reviewed articles and translates much of this evidence into practice with tools and resources. As a founding member and past chair/co-chair (2009-2018) of the Canadian Malnutrition Task Force, she is involved in translating research into practice and advocating for improvements in nutrition care. She is currently the chair of the primary care working group for CMTF and involved in several national and international expert groups advancing the prevention, detection and treatment of malnutrition.

Processed foods and clinical implications (Food For Health)

Residents in long term care, assisted living and retirement homes and patients in hospitals rely on quality food to support their health and recovery. Currently there are several challenges to understanding what patients/residents expect from the food they receive and the determination of the nutritional quality of food provided to them. Although it is well recognized within the nutrition and dietetics community that nutrient dense food that patients and residents want to eat is an essential service, little interest or attention is paid to this important aspect of care beyond those intimately involved in providing food in institutions. This has resulted in some sectors/regions divesting in food for institutions. As a result, processed foods have become the norm in many institutions. Recently, there has been a recognition that we need to change the status quo and ensure healthful options for residents and patients. There are currently several barriers to making meaningful change but changing this reality is possible.