Welcome to NRI

Dr Charoula K Nikolaou

Research Fellow in Public Health Nutrition

Food and Markets Department

+44 (0)1634 88 3269

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Dr Charoula Konstantia (aka Dina) Nikolaou is an HCPC registered dietitian specialising in Diabetes and Obesity management with several years of clinical nutrition experience in hospitals and community nutrition. She received her PhD in Nutrition from the University of Glasgow specialising in Obesity Prevention in 2014. During her PhD, she developed an eLearning programme for unwanted weight-gain prevention using as a basis two distinct behavioural models, the rationale and the stealth model. Both programmes were successful in preventing weight-gain over a course of a year but mostly the one based on the stealth model, opening new avenues for interventions away from the classical health education model. She further expanded on her eHealth knowledge during her research fellow position for Imperial College and Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in Nanayng Technological University in Singapore. She worked as a researcher and co-ordinator for a WHO-commissioned programme on the effectiveness of different eLearning modalities for training health care professionals.

She joined NRI, Food and Markets department, in January 2020 as a research fellow in Public Health Nutrition. Before joining NRI, she worked at the University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Medicine, Global Health Policy department and St Luke’s International University, Graduate Public Health School after having been awarded an individual international fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. Her work in Japan focused on local food policies and legislation and how these affect obesity rates, food availability, and food prices. This work was partly a continuation from her work carried out during her fellowship at the Catholique Université de Louvain in Belgium in 2015-2017. Her work in Louvain focused on how Human Rights and specifically the Right to Food could be utilised to prevent malnutrition (underweight and overweight) along with relevant policies and legislation. She is particularly interested in preventing obesity in young adults, the group at the highest risk for unwanted excessive weight gain. She is trying to achieve this by exploring information on nutrition policies and legislation and their influence into personal decision-making. Moreover, she is trying to utilise modern technology for empowering young citizens to manage their lifestyles by providing vital information in a suitable format. The importance of her work has been recognised by the US Obesity Society while still a PhD student when she received the award for one of the most influential papers for 2014 in the field of Obesity for the paper ‘Preventing weight gain with calorie-labelling’. Her PhD thesis was also shortlisted for the Best Thesis Award in Europe from the European Association for the Study of Obesity in 2015. Several other publications also attracted wide media attention due to their importance for public health policy and practice.

Nikolaou, C.K., Hankey, C.R. and Lean, M.E.J., 2015. Elearning approaches to prevent weight gain in young adults: A randomized controlled studyObesity23(12), pp.2377-2384

Nikolaou, C.K., Robinson, T.N., Sim, K.A. and Lean, M.E., 2019. Turning the tables on obesity: young people, IT and social movements. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, pp.1-6.

Nikolaou, C.K., Hankey, C.R. and Lean, M.E.J., 2015. Weight changes in young adults: a mixed-methods studyInternational journal of obesity39(3), p.508.

Nikolaou, C.K. and Lean, M.E., 2017. Mobile applications for obesity and weight management: current market characteristics. International Journal of Obesity41(1), p.200.

Nikolaou, C.K., Hankey, C.R. and Lean, M.E.J., 2014. Preventing weight gain with calorie‐labelingObesity22(11), pp.2277-2283.

Gentry, S.V., Gauthier, A., Ehrstrom, B.L.E., Wortley, D., Lilienthal, A., Car, L.T., Dauwels-Okutsu, S., Nikolaou, C.K., Zary, N., Campbell, J. and Car, J., 2019. Serious Gaming and Gamification Education in Health Professions: Systematic Review. Journal of medical Internet research21(3), p.e12994.

Dunleavy, G., Nikolaou, C.K., Nifakos, S., Atun, R., Law, G.C.Y. and Car, L.T., 2019. Mobile digital education for health professions: systematic review and meta-analysis by the digital health education collaboration. Journal of medical Internet research21(2), p.e12937.

Saxena, N., Kyaw, B.M., Vseteckova, J., Dev, P., Paul, P., Lim, K.T.K., Kononowicz, A.A., Masiello, I., Car, L.T., Nikolaou, C.K. and Zary, N., 2018. Virtual reality environments for health professional educationThe Cochrane database of systematic reviews2018(10).

Gasch, M., Dunleavy, G.J., Kyaw, B.M., Lean, M.E. and Nikolaou, C.K., 2016. Personalized Health, eLearning, and mHealth Interventions to Improve Nutritional Status. Current nutrition reports5(4), pp.295-306.

Dr Nikolaou’s main research interests are;

  • The use of modern technology for the prevention of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases underpinned by malnutrition (overweight and underweight).
  • Preventing malnutrition in all its forms (underweight and overweight) through policies, legislation, and behavioural economics interventions.
  • Harnessing modern technologies for amplifying social movements for food citizenship and mobilization of the civic society.
  • Developing risk prediction models for weight-gain.

Master of Public Health, UNICAF and the University of South Wales

State Scholarship Foundation of Greece and European Union

Individual Award of 16,400 Euros

Marie Curie-Move-in Louvain Fellowship

Individual Award of 83.000 Euros

JSPS Fellowship

Individual Award of 8.868.000 JPY plus grant-in of 2.400.000 JPY with Prof Gilmour

2017 – 2019 JSPS individual fellowship, Global Health Policy department, Graduate Medical School, University of Tokyo, Japan. Transferred to St Luke’s International University

2015 – 2017 Marie-Curie/Move in Louvain fellowship, Institut pour la recherche interdisciplinaire en sciences juridiques (JUR-I), Catholique Université de Louvain, Belgium

2015 Best Thesis Award, Award received from the European Society of Obesity, Award received in Prague, Czech

2014 Most Influential paper for the understanding of Obesity, US Obesity Society

2013 Saltire Fellowship, Scottish Government Mobility Award, Public Health, Harvard University, USA

2011 – 2013 European Union and State Scholarship Foundation of Greece, Scholarship for PhD studies, awarded on the merit of the proposal



2007 – Present Registered Dietitian, Health and Care Professions Council, UK

2013 – Present Member, European Public Health Association

2014 – Present Member, Association of Obesity, US

2013 – Present Member, European Association of Obesity