Nutrition Food Health

The Nutrition, food and health theme focuses on the promotion of good health through food and nutrition and the primary prevention and management of nutrition related illness in the population. Imperial College leads the way in world-class research in nutrition linked to Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Global Health, Diabetes and Obesity through Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Natural Science and the Imperial College Business School.

UK Obesity rates are the highest in Europe with more than 60% of the population overweight or obese. If trends continue 40% of the UK population will be obese by 2025 and this creates a huge burden on the NHS as obesity-related conditions currently cost the NHS on average £5bn a year.  Many interventions deployed by health systems have failed to improve healthy behaviour in a sustained way over the life cycle. The vast majority failed to account for the individual genotype specificities and biological environmental factors. Few attempts have been made to systematically link and triangulate different sources of biological, socioeconomic, and behavioural data to look at the overall processes and simultaneously for the interplay of genetic, epigenetic, psychological, behavioural, socio-economic and long-term consequences of an intervention on nutrition and metabolic health.

In order for basic biological research into nutrition to be used to maintain and improve health and wellbeing, it is key to understand how food and nutrition interplay with physiology, preferences, psychology, socio-economic variables, behaviour and policy interventions. Research in the social and behavioural sciences has not yet, for example fully engaged with the so-called ‘epigenetics revolution’ in biology, that is, the growing evidence that differences in genetically identical individuals may be explained by epigenetic alterations in DNA and its accompanying proteins.

Leveraging on the interdisciplinary research at Imperial College we undertake high quality multidisciplinary research at the interface between the social and biological sciences, to develop sustainable strategies fully embedded in the healthcare ecosystem to fight the obesity epidemic, promoting the wellbeing of the population, mitigating its impact on the economy including on the financial sustainability of health systems.

The vision of the nutrition, food and health research programme is to improve the global health through a new understanding of how food interacts with metabolism.


Key Imperial infrastructureDepartment of MedicineDepartment of Surgery and CancerNational Heart and Lung InstituteSchool of Public HealthDepartment of ChemistryDepartment of Life SciencesCentre for African Research and Engagement (ICCARE)Centre for Digestive and Gut Health, Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science


Theme leads

Professor Gary Frost


Professor Frost has an international reputation for his work on the metabolic effect of dietary carbohydrates and the clinical management of obesity. His work was the first to describe that dietary carbohydrate could influence adipocyte metabolism and subsequently whole body insulin sensitivity and the positive effect of low glycaemic index carbohydrate on high density lipoprotein cholesterol. More recently Professor Frosts work has supported the development of the hypothesis that fermentable carbohydrate limits weight gain and has beneficial effects on body composition and neurological signalling.

Further information on Professor Frost

Professor Jeremy Nicholson


Professor Nicholson is head of the Department of Surgery and Cancer, one of the largest clinical academic departments in the world and was one of the first to embrace the importance of metabolic profiling. His current role is to translate advanced spectroscopic techniques for molecular phenotyping into point-of-care clinical practice throughout the entire hospital system. His research involves understanding the role of microbes in regulating human metabolic pathways and how the microbes are involved in drug metabolism toxicity as well as variations in therapeutic responses.  

Further Information on Professor Nicholson

Department of Medicine

Department of Chemistry

Department of Surgery and Cancer

School of Public Health

National Heart and Lung Institute

Institute of Clinical Sciences