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MSc(Guelph) PhD (Otago)

Sheila Skeaff Thumb 2016Email

Professor Skeaff conducts research on the trace element status of the population, with a particular focus on iodine and fluoride in vulnerable groups of the population, such as children and pregnant women. Professor Skeaff is also interested in elucidating the consequences of mild iodine deficiency on normal growth and development, including cognition. She was a member of a multi-disciplinary group that measured the environmental literacy of students at the University of Otago. More recently, Professor Skeaff has led a team that developed and validated an online questionnaire to measure food literacy in children, which is currently being used to evaluate the impact of school gardens on food literacy in New Zealand children. Her Inaugural Professorial Lecture can be viewed here.

Professor Skeaff leads the Metrics and Management theme of Food Waste Innovation Otago, which measures food waste, develops reduction strategies, applies innovative technology, and works to modify producer and consumer behaviour. She has been involved in measuring food waste in primary production, retail, and food service (eg, universities halls of residence and aged care). Research in Food Waste Innovation builds on Professor Skeaff's interest in sustainable nutrition.

Professor Skeaff has an MSc in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Guelph (Canada) and a PhD in Human Nutrition from the University of Otago. In addition to being a long-standing academic at the University of Otago, Professor Skeaff has held or been appointed to a number of national and international expert groups. Professor Skeaff served as the President of the Nutrition Society of New Zealand for six years and is the vice-chair of the trans-Tasman Expert Working Group for Iodine that is reviewing the Australian/New Zealand Nutrient Reference Values for Iodine. She is a member of a World Health Organisation external expert group working to revise guidance on Iodine indicators. Professor Skeaff plays a key role in the governance of the Oceania Nutrition Leadership Platform (, serving as the Chair. She is on the Editorial Board of the journals Maternal and Child Nutrition and Frontiers of Nutrition. In 2018 she gained national recognition with an Ako Aotearoa Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award and in 2022 was the OUSA best postgraduate supervisor of the year.


Professor Skeaff coordinates and teaches:

She is also the Human Nutrition Postgraduate Coordinator and oversees the department's MSc and PhD programmes. As part of this role, she coordinates and teaches:

Current postgraduate students


  • Jessica O'Connor (with M Mirosa and P Bremer). Towards a circular bioeconomy: food loss, waste and opportunities in New Zealand beef and dairy production.
  • Grace Clare (with M Mirosa and P Bremer). The social return on investment of food rescue organisations in New Zealand.

Master of Science

  • Briar Mills (with M Mirosa and R O'Brien) Food waste in tertiary institutions
  • Zahrah Hatraby (with M Mirosa) Food waste associated with school food lunches
  • Taingarue Mataira (with P Wilcox) Breeding characteristics of Manuka honey
  • Stephanie Dike (with L Moata'ane). Fluoride in Vanuatu: too much or too little?

Recent Graduates


  • Nan Xin Wang (with R McLean). Quantifying sodium intake from discretionary salt in the New Zealand diet. (2023)
  • Pouya Saeedi (with P Skidmore and K Black). The Physical activity, Energy, Diet And Lifestyle (PEDALS) study. (2017)
  • Zheng Feei Ma (with B Venn). Thyroglobulin as an index of mild iodine deficiency in adults. (2016)


  • Jie Yu Ng. An evaluation of food literacy in children before and after the Garden-to-Table programme. (2022)

Master of Health Science

  • Carolyn Hamer (with M Skeaff). Food Literacy in Year 12 and 13 High School students. (2019)

Master of Science

  • Madeleine Rowan (with A-L Heath and M Mirosa). The impact of environmental attitudes of parents on food choices and behaviours during complementary feeding. (2022)
  • Emad Alsayed (with B Venn). The proportion of energy derived from plant-foods in the diets of adolescent girls who identify as omnivores or vegetarians. (2021)
  • Margaret Thorsen (with M Mirosa). Food waste for New Zealand fruit and vegetable growers. (2021)
  • Francesca Goodman-Smith (with M Mirosa). Food waste and nutritional loss at the supermarket. (2018)
  • Lara Ware (with MSkeaff). Food Literacy in New Zealand children. (2018)
  • Harriet Harrex and Brittany Davison (with P Skidmore and K Black). The Physical activity, Energy, Diet And Lifestyle (PEDALS) study. (2016)
  • Celine Evans. Iodine status of pregnant NZ women post-fortification. (2015)

Master of Dietetics

  • Kendall Airey and Abigail McPhail. Attitudes and willingness of university students to reduce meat and replace with plant-based proteins. (2022)
  • Yue Shin Ong (with M Peddie and J Haszard). Iodine intakes in adolescent girls and boys enrolled in SuNDiAL. (2022)
  • Kathy Xu, Mickey Yuan, Molly Peters, Aysu Shahin (with M Peddie and J Haszard). Iodine and fluoride intakes in adolescent boys enrolled in SuNDiAL. (2021)


Brough, L., & Skeaff, S. (2024). Iodine [Nutrition information: Invited]. Advances in Nutrition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.advnut.2024.100168 Journal - Research Other

Thorsen, M., Mirosa, M., Skeaff, S., Goodman-Smith, F., & Bremer, P. (2024). Upcycled food: How does it support the three pillars of sustainability? Trends in Food Science & Technology, 143, 104269. doi: 10.1016/j.tifs.2023.104269 Journal - Research Article

McLean, R. M., Wang, N. X., Cameron, C., & Skeaff, S. A. (2023). Measuring sodium from discretionary salt: Comparison of methods. Nutrients, 15, 5076. doi: 10.3390/nu15245076 Journal - Research Article

Mills, B., O'Brien, R., Mirosa, M., & Skeaff, S. (2023). Food waste initiatives in the tertiary sector in Aotearoa New Zealand: The challenge of meeting SDG 12.3. Pūhau ana te rā: Tailwinds, 1(2). doi: 10.11157/patr.v1i2.23 Journal - Research Article

Lara-Castor, L., Micha, R., Cudhea, F., Miller, V., Shi, P., Zhang, J., … Global Dietary Database, including Skeaff, S. (2023). Sugar-sweetened beverage intakes among adults between 1990 and 2018 in 185 countries. Nature Communications, 14, 5957. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-41269-8 Journal - Research Article

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