Emma Patterson

Emma Patterson

Adjunct Senior Lecturer | Docent
Visiting address: Solnavägen 1 E, 11365 Stockholm
Postal address: K9 Global folkhälsa, K9 GPH Schäfer Elinder, 171 77 Stockholm

About me

  • Nutritionist with a focus on public health and sustainability.

    Employed at the Swedish Food Agency in Uppsala (www.livsmedelsverket.se) where I work on national dietary surveys and evaluating the evidence on topics related to public health nutrition and sustainable diets.

    Before that I worked at the Centre for Epidemiology and Social Medicine at the Region of Stockholm for more than 7 years, on health-promoting schools and issues related to nutrition and evaluation in the region. I co-developed and managed a national tool, School Food Sweden, to measure school food and meal quality.

    I trained as a dietitian and nutritionist in Ireland, and completed a doctorate in medical sciences in 2010 at KI on the topic of child and adolescent dietary habits, followed by postgraduate training in nutritional epidemiology and public health sciences.

    European Nutrition Leadership Program (2010) alumnus.


  • My research is focused on the importance of diet for public health and for a sustainable society.

    One strand of my research is concerned with assessing and understanding dietary habits, and another is how to influence dietary habits in practice, with a focus on evaluation, intervention and implementation, and reducing inequalities in health.

    I helped to develop, validate and subsequently implement an innovative system for evaluating school meals (SkolmatSverige [1]). It has been used by almost half of the country's primary schools to some degree. I have studied how school meal quality can change in the short term and long-term, and shown that both a combination of policy and tools such as this one can have a significant effect on quality.

    In the project "OPTIMAT: Fostering healthy and sustainable dietary habits through optimised school meals [2]", with funding from Formas, the Swedish Research Council for Sustainability, I and colleagues looked at ways to enhance school meals with respect to nutrition, climate impact, cost and acceptability, simultaneously. We conducted simulations and successful real-world interventions in schools. The project has shown promising results, and is being replicated elsewhere.

    In the A Healthy School Start Plus intervention study we tested a parental support programme for the third time, in disadvantaged areas. The programme targets all children starting school (ages 5-7) and has shown promising results regarding dietary behaviours and in children with obesity, reducing the level of overweight. For the latest iteration, I helped to develop and validate a mobile-phone based method for measuring dietary intakes in these young children, via their parents, while keeping respondent burden as low as possible.

    The full evaluation of this intervention to promote healthy diets and physical activity is ongoing, with funding from Forte, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare and from The Kamprad Family Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Research &
  • Charity. Strategies for full-scale *implementation* of the A Healthy School Start programme are the focus of the IMPROVE-study (2020-24), also with funding from Forte.

    I am also involved in the Mistra-funded Sustainable Consumption project, co-ordinated by KTH where I have performed a health impact assessment showing how a small number of more sustainable dietary practices could result in significantly fewer premature deaths in Sweden. This work was carried out with collaborators from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    In summary, my research interests lie broadly along this spectrum:
    Dietary assessment ->
  • Nutritional epidemiology ->
  • Children's diets &
  • school meals ->
  • Public health nutrition ->
  • Sustainable diets

    I have published >
  • 60 Web of Science-indexed works, plus peer-reviewed study protocols and reviews, in addition to regional and national reports. I have reviewed for over 13 journals and served as an associate editor for the journal Public Health Nutrition.

    [1] http://www.skolmatsverige.se
    [2] https://ki.se/en/gph/optimat-research-project-about-optimizing-and-improving-school-meals


  • Adjunct senior lecturer in Public Health Nutrition (since 2021). Docent (since 2022).

    Co-supervisor for two doctoral students who defended 2021 [1] and 2022 [2].

    Main supervisor for eight final year student projects within basic and advanced programmes Nutrition, Food Science, Public Health and Global Health.

    Lecturer on the basic and advanced programmes Public Health, Nutrition, Physiotherapy and Health Science, Medicine, on courses Applied Epidemiology, Nutrition Epidemiology and Health Promotion. I give lectures mainly on the topics of nutritional epidemiology, public health nutrition and dietary assessment methods, in both English and Swedish. Plus popular science lectures, interviews and other presentations for non-scientific audiences.

    Most recent courses taken: Teaching and Learning at Higher Education, and Integrating Global Health Perspectives in your Teaching, Karolinska Institutet.

    [1] https://staff.ki.se/people/pateus
    [2] https://staff.ki.se/people/mahmal

Selected publications


All other publications


  • Nutritionist, Risk/Benefit Assessor, Swedish Food Agency, 2020-
  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet, 2021-2025

Degrees and Education

  • Docent, Karolinska Institutet, 2022
  • Degree Of Doctor Of Philosophy, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, 2010

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