DR MELISSA WHITELAW

APD, PhD

Paediatric Dietitian

Clinical Interests

Melissa enjoys seeing adolescents with nutritional concerns across a range of clinical conditions. These include weight and growth concerns, eating disorders, weight management, vegetarian diets, fussy eating, and gastrointestinal concerns (for example low FODMAP, low lactose, constipation, coeliac disease).  She also provides education and dietary analysis for adolescents when they have concerns about what they are eating.

Background and Experience

She brings extensive experience in working with adolescents as a former physical education teacher for more than 20 years before a career change to become a paediatric dietitian. Melissa has been the lead dietitian for the Department of Adolescent Medicine at the Royal Children’s Hospital since 2004 and worked in private practice since 2005. She completed her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2019. Her doctoral thesis investigated the clinical course of adolescents diagnosed with anorexia nervosa compared to adolescents who despite significant weight loss were not sufficiently underweight to meet diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. This is an emerging group of patients who are frequently overlooked and can have the severity of life threatening clinical and psychological complications seen in anorexia nervosa. Melissa has several journal publications about adolescent eating disorders and a book chapter about nutrition in male eating disorders published this year. She continues to pursue her research interests and gives lectures in schools, universities and to practising dietitians.

Philosophy

Melissa strives to provide the highest quality, evidence based practice for all her patients and their families.  She promotes a positive relationship with food and body image. She encourages a healthy lifestyle with advice about physical activity, screen time and enjoyment of good nutritional choices. Melissa is passionate about providing sensible nutrition advice to adolescents in a world of confusion regarding inappropriate information about nutrition and fads that are currently so pervasive across the range of media.

Melissa enjoys spending time with her husband and three adult children. She tries to stay fit, sails, enjoys reading and recently started learning to play the cello.