PHN Research

Public Health Nutrition Research

Dedicated to improving the evidence base that helps us understand how food and nutrition policy and interventions impact on public health.


These key publications have contributed uniquely to nutritional epidemiology, teaching statistics to nutrition and dietetics students, and our understanding of school food policy and diet and low income.


Design Concepts in Nutritional Epidemiology

Children’s Food Trust

Barrie Margetts and Michael Nelson

Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, 2006

ISBN 0192627392

In this classic work, Margetts and Nelson explore how the relationship between nutritional exposure and disease aetiology must be underpinned by sound experimental design. First published in 1991, the second edition brings a clearer understanding of the characteristics of nutritional exposures that need to be measured in order to understand questions about diet-disease relationships. The book is divided into three sections: scientific concepts and study design; measurements of exposure and outcome (including new chapters on socio-demographic, psycho-social, and anthropometric measurements and gene-nutrient interactions); and the design of nutritional epidemiological studies.

For further details visit Oxford University Press or Amazon.

Statistics in Nutrition and Dietetics

Children’s Food Trust

Michael Nelson

London. John Wiley. 2020

ISBN 1118930649

This textbook provides an introduction to statistics and research design aimed specifically at undergraduate and MSc students on courses of nutrition and dietetics, as well as other medical sciences courses. The book is unique in providing subject-specific examples and exercises for nutrition and dietetics. It comes with online access to SPSS data, syntax and output files; PowerPoint slide sets and notes for teaching; and links to useful learning resources.

For further details visit Wiley or Amazon.


School Food Policy

School food policy is key to the development of healthy eating at school. The three workshop reports listed below, together with publications from the School Food Trust and the Children’s Food Trust, constitute a unique reporting and evidence base from which to develop further ideas about school food policy implementation, impact and evaluation.

2012: School Food Trust. International workshop on school food and policy
Public Health Nutrition. Volume 16, Issue 6, June 2013, pp. 953-1146

2014: EU Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy
Storcksdieck GBS, Breda J, Caldeira S, Nelson M, Wollgast J. School Food and Nutrition in Europe: policies, interventions, and their impact. A workshop report. 14-15 May 2014. EU Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy. Luxembourg. Publications Office of the European Union.

Storcksdieck GBS, Kardakis T, Wollgast J, Nelson M, Louro Caldeira S. Mapping of National School Food Policies across the EU28 plus Norway and Switzerland. Publications Office of the European Union. JRC publication number JRC90452. ISBN: 978-92-79-38402-8 (print) 978-92-79-38401-1 (pdf). ISSN: 1018-5593 (print) 1831-9424 (online). 2014.

Click on the links to the archived web pages below, and the Children’s Food Trust logo at the bottom of the page, for a full list of publications and related work of the Trusts.

School Food Trust
Children’s Food Trust


School Food Trust/Children’s Food Trust

For a list of academic publications relating to the work of the Trusts, please click here or on the CFT logo at the bottom of the page.

For details about the work of the Trusts on the National Archive, please click on this link to Children’s Food Trust.

Brexit and School Food 2018-2019

Brexit created uncertainty for the food and agricultural sector generally and school food services in particular. The School Food Plan Alliance asked Public Health Nutrition Research to investigate disquiet amongst the major players in school food catering and front-line school catering staff.

Although the sample is small and not random or regionally representative, the findings provide insight into concerns about the impact of Brexit on school food catering and services.

For a more detailed report, click here
For the annotated slide set, click here

Nelson M. Brexit and school food. London. Public Health Nutrition Research. 2019.

Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey
The Low Income Diet and Nutrition Survey (LIDNS) is unique in exploring the dietary habits of low income families in the UK. Over 3700 adults and children were interviewed between November 2003 and January 2005. Information was based on face-to-face interviews, four 24-hour recalls, physical measurements and analysis of blood samples. It is an adjunct to the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys that provide on-going insights into the characteristics and changes of diet in the UK population. The report and full data set are available online.

Michael Nelson, Bob Erens, Beverly Bates, Susan Church and Tracy Boshier. The Stationery Office. 2007. ISBN 978 0 11 703827 1 (full report and CD) and 978 0 11 703827 0 (Summary)

Family Budget Unit
The Family Budget Unit (FBU) was founded in 1987:

The FBU research was based on a unique systematic approach to the development of low cost but acceptable budget standards that combined a consensual base (what families felt they needed at a minimum) together with scientific standards (e.g. healthy minimum requirements for heating, space, nutrition, etc. based on evidential research).

The full set of publications from the FBU is available here.

The FBU was dissolved in 2011. Its work and intellectual property was transferred to the Centre for Research in Social Policy at the University of Loughborough.

Who we work with

PHN Research works with colleagues in organizations in the UK and internationally