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Our unit has a strong interest in nutrition related research. Our work includes nutrition epidemiology and evaluation of policies influencing food systems locally, nationally and internationally. We use a wide range of statistical approaches, including quasi-experimental designs and modelling, utilising routine data sources and large cohort studies.
Our unit is also part of the Food Environment Group, which was created in collaboration with Imperial’s Centre for Health Economics & Policy Innovation (CHEPI) and aims to provide policy-relevant public health solutions through the improvement of food environments.

Research focus

The impact of ultra-processed food consumption on health outcomes; evaluating the impact of public health interventions on diet and diet-related health outcomes; understanding upstream determinants of food systems such as trade, agriculture, and economic systems

Research topics

  • Associations of ultra-processed food intake with nutrient profiles and disease outcomes in seven countries in both adults and children
  • Examining the impact of changes in public sector spending as a result of austerity policies on food intakes and health outcomes in England
  • Evaluation of nutrition welfare policies aimed at low-income children, including Healthy Start Voucher Scheme and Universal Infant Free School Meals
  • Assessment of local authority interactions with harmful commodity industries with a focus on the food industry under the NIHR School for Public Health Research Programme’s Places and Communities Programme (SPHR)
  • Addressing the double burden of malnutrition in Peru using a community-based system dynamics approach to improve food systems
  • Joint working with The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster local authorities on the evaluation of the Go-Golborne childhood obesity prevention programme Work with local authorities
  • The potential impacts of Brexit on diet and cardiovascular disease in England

Country focus: Middle-income countries and EU member states

Project example

We evaluated the impact of the Public Health Responsibility Deal on salt intake and associated cardiovascular disease and gastric cancer in England, using interrupted time series analysis and microsimulation modelling. The Public Health Responsibility Deal was a public-private partnership that gave greater freedom to the food industry to set and monitor governmental targets for salt intake in England. We found that its introduction in 2011 slowed the decline of salt intake and increased cardiovascular and gastric cancer burdens, suggesting the potential limitations of public-private partnerships to robustly and independently set and monitor public health goals.