Dr Sarah Clare Gerritsen

BA, MA (Applied) VUW., PhD UoA.


Sarah is a social scientist working in the field of public health nutrition and child health. She produces policy-relevant research that helps to understand what improves the health and wellbeing of New Zealand children.

Sarah is the Associate Director of New Zealand’s contemporary longitudinal study Growing Up in New Zealand following over 6,000 children from before their birth in 2009/10. She also undertakes research on a variety of public health nutrition topics, such as food environments, healthy food policies and food security. Her PhD was on the potential for early childhood education services to assist with obesity prevention. Sarah previously worked at the Ministry of Health as a senior advisor in population health research, and was the research manager for a cross-party think tank at the Royal Society of Arts in London, The Commission on 2020 Public Services. 

Research | Current

Associate Director - Growing Up in New Zealand, funded by the Ministry of Social Development www.growingup.co.nz

Principal Investigator - Covid Kai Survey: How has the COVID-19 lockdown changed the way New Zealanders food shop, cook and eat? https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/news/2020/11/18/covid-lockdowns-the-toll-on-our-diets.html 

Co-investigator - National Healthy Food and Drink Policy Evaluation (HYPE study) funded by the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge https://www.nihi.auckland.ac.nz/nutrition


Completed projects:

Principal Investigator - The effect of household food-related hardship on preschool nutrition and health, funded by the Ministry of Social Development's Children and Families Research Fund:

Co-investigator - INFORMAS Food-Epi Government Policy Evaluation, Covid-related marketing of unhealthy food and drinks.

Contracted researcher - Effectiveness of policies and programmes promoting fruits and vegetables, review and background paper for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Health Organization in preparation for the 2021 United Nations Year of Fruits and Vegetables

Contracted researcher - Review of the Maternal (Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women), Infant and Toddler Dietary Guidelines for the Ministry of Health

Contracted researcher - Healthy food and physical activity environments research and policy stocktake, for the National Science Challenge Healthier Lives 

Co-investigator- Nutrition 2.0 Improving fruit and vegetables in children funded by Health Research Council Explorer Grant.

Teaching | Current

2019 Guest lecturer for POPLHLTH765: Nutrition interventions in Public Health, POPLHLTH316: Translating Health Information for Decision-Makers, POPLHLTH305: Community Nutrition, and EDUC300: Understanding Childhood

Postgraduate supervision

Current students:

Pippa McKelvie-Sebileau, PhD, A Whole of Community Systems Approach to Improving Children's Nutrition in Regional New Zealand

Kaitlin Greenway, MPH, Food insecurity among 8-year-olds in the Growing Up in New Zealand study

Lauren Hunter, MPH, How does living through a crisis affect mealtime behaviours? Findings from the
literature and the COVID Kai Survey

Imogen Neilson, MPH, Changes to grocery shopping, cooking, and diet during the COVID-19 lockdown among New Zealanders facing financial difficulties

Kyaw Hla, MPH, Topic: Changes in the consumption of alcohol during the early phase of Covid-19 pandemic in 38 countries

Eva Liu, MHSc (Dietetics) Topic: Fussy Eating and Food Neophobia in Childhood: Longitudinal Analyses of Data from the Growing Up in New Zealand Study.

Suzanne Albon, MHSc, Topic: A comparison of nutrition environments in early childhood education services in Oslo, Norway and New Zealand

Saswata Ray, PhD, Topic: An exploration of young adults understanding and awareness of food-related interactions and communications on social-media


Diego Moreno, MPP, Topic: How can New Zealand regulate obesogenic environments within and around schools? A double framework analysis.

Shanjivan Padarath, MPH, Topic: Are commercially prepared baby foods meeting national dietary guidelines recommended for infants and toddlers?

Alexandra Cristea, MPH: Sugar-sweetened beverage policies and availability in Auckland Council Sport and Recreation Centres

Shona Gomes, MHSc (Dietetics) Topic: Development of sodium benchmarks for fast-food restaurants and an investigation of their feasibility


2019, School of Population Health Emerging Researcher Best Poster

2017, School of Population Health's Doctoral Publication Excellence prize

2015, Best Doctoral Oral Presentation Prize, Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development Science Symposium

2013-2017, University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

2013-2017, Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development Postgraduate Scholarship


Associate Director, Growing Up in New Zealand

Areas of expertise

Child health / Public health nutrition / Population health / Food environments / Food insecurity / Eating behaviours / Infant feeding / Research evidence synthesis (umbrella reviews) / Nutrition policy / Knowledge translation

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Food Policy Expert Panel Member, Health Coalition Aotearoa

Associated Researcher, Global Childhoods Research Centre, University of Auckland

Public Health Association of New Zealand

Auckland Public Health Nutrition Network

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Gerritsen, S. C., Harre, S., Rees, D., Renker-Darby, A., Bartos, A. E., Waterlander, W. E., & Swinburn, B. (2020). Community Group Model Building as a Method for Engaging Participants and Mobilising Action in Public Health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (10)10.3390/ijerph17103457
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Boyd Swinburn
  • Swinburn, B., & Gerritsen, S. (2019). Overconsumption and the global syndemic. In M. Lawrence, S. Friel (Eds.) Healthy and sustainable food systems (pp. 135-146). Abingdon, Oxon, U.K.: Routledge. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/49041
  • Gerritsen, S., Renker-Darby, A., Harré S, Rees, D., Raroa, D. A., Eickstaedt, M., ... Waterlander, W. E. (2019). Improving low fruit and vegetable intake in children: Findings from a system dynamics, community group model building study. PloS one, 14 (8)10.1371/journal.pone.0221107
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Boyd Swinburn
  • Gerritsen, S. C., Harre, S., Swinburn, B., Rees, D., Renker-Darby, A., Bartos, A. E., & Waterlander, W. (2019). Systemic Barriers and Equitable Interventions to Improve Vegetable and Fruit Intake in Children: Interviews with National Food System Actors. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16 (8), 1387-1387. 10.3390/ijerph16081387
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Boyd Swinburn, David Rees
  • Gerritsen, S., Anderson, S. E., Morton, S. M., & Wall, C. R. (2018). Pre-school nutrition-related behaviours at home and early childhood education services: findings from the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. Public health nutrition, 21 (7), 1222-1231. 10.1017/s1368980017004116
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Susan Morton, Clare Wall, Paul Hofman
  • Gerritsen, S. C. (2018). Realising the potential of early childhood education environments for obesity prevention The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
  • Gerritsen, S., Dean, B., Morton, S. M., & Wall, C. R. (2017). Do childcare menus meet nutrition guidelines? Quantity, variety and quality of food provided in New Zealand Early Childhood Education services. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 41 (4), 345-351. 10.1111/1753-6405.12667
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Susan Morton, Clare Wall
  • Gerritsen, S. C., & Wall, C. R. (2017). How We Eat: Reviews of the evidence on food and eating behaviours related to diet and body size. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health. Related URL.

Contact details

Alternative contact

Mobile phone: 0220501700

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 507 - Bldg 507
Level 1, Room 1115
New Zealand

Social links