Public Health Practitioner
Yuan Li works in The George Institute for Global Health, China as the leader of nutrition and lifestyle program. She is a conjoint lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales.
Yuan Li holds a doctor and master of preventive medicine degree awarded by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC). During her training for PhD from 2001 to 2007, she was actively involved in the international collaborative cohort, China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) and did the research on the trend of obesity in Chinese residents.
After then, Dr. Li worked in the Disease Control and Prevention institutions for around ten years. During her stay in the Division of Non-communicable Disease Control and Community Health at CCDC from 2010 to 2016, she completed many national projects on chronic disease prevention and organized a series of research on the promotion and evaluation of healthy lifestyle activities. In 2011, she acquired the associate professor qualification identified by the Ministry of Health, China.
In 2017, Yuan Li joined The George Institute China. Her current research focused on nutrition and chronic disease prevention, particularly salt reduction in China, and mobile health as well.
1. NIHR Global Health Research Unit, UK (Project number 16/136/77)
Project name: Action on Salt China (ASC) at Queen Mary University of London
Funding Cost: 6.6 Million Pounds, 06/2017-03/2021
Role: principal researcher
2. Ministry of Science and Technology, China (Project number: 2016YFC1300205)
Project name: Smart Diet technology development and application
Funding Cost: 1 Million RMB, 01/2017- 12/2020
Role: principal researcher
3. QUALCOMM for China Center for mHealth Innovation
Project name FoodSwitch China
Funding Cost: 100,000 USD/year, 01/2015- 12/2018
Role: principal researcher
Yuan Li was awarded the Third Award of China Medical Science and Technology Award in 2017 due to her contribution to the program “Healthy Lifestyle for All”
1. Action on Salt China
Salt reduction lowers blood pressure and reduces cardiovascular disease including stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Research has shown that if people reduced their salt intake by 15% it could prevent 8.5 million cardiovascular deaths over 10 years in 23 developing countries and result in major cost savings. The UK has reduced salt by 15% from 2003 to 2011 due to a successful salt reduction program leading by Professor Graham MacGregor, Chair of both Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) and World Action on Salt and Health (WASH). WASH has helped many countries develop a salt reduction strategy.
China is the largest developing country with one fifth of the world’s population. Due to Chinese traditional cooking and dining habits, salt intake in China is very high and about 80% of the salt is added by the consumer to food. Hypertension and strokes which are often directly related to high salt intake are among the highest in the world. Salt reduction is one of most cost-effective health strategies to lower population blood pressure and prevent the development of hypertension.
Following the success of CASH and WASH, Queen Mary University of London joined with the George Institute for Global Health China and Chinese health authorities, including the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Chinese Centre for Health Education and China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment for developing the program, “Action on Salt China” (ASC). ASC program was funded by UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).
The aim is to develop and implement a comprehensive and sustainable salt reduction program, especially focusing on home cooking, and restaurant and pre-packaged foods. The goal is to achieve a 15% reduction by 2021 and 30% reduction by 2025.
2. FoodSwitch China
FoodSwitch is a free smartphone application designed by The George Institute for Global Health to support healthier food choices and prevent diet-related ill health. It is already available and popular in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The goal is to empower individuals to make healthier food choices by providing access to information and innovative tools.
China’s rapid economic and social development means a dramatic increase in the consumption of packaged foods. Although there are policies and regulations about food nutrition labeling in China, current nutritional labels can be difficult for consumers to choose much healthier food products. FoodSwitch China aims to provide a simplified approach and more help by using advanced mobile technology.
3. Smart diet technology development and application (Smart Diet)
SmartDiet is a sub-study of a national program on the study of key technologies and strategies of nutritional and behavioral intervention for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The aim is to develop an integrated smartphone app (smart diet) using the database that will allow users to record their daily food intake by scanning the barcode of the food (barcoded foods) or simply the image of the food (non-barcoded food) as well as their daily physical activity so that to monitor the energy balance of the users and to provide advice on diet and physical activities.