Nutrition and public health

Nutrition and Public Health research at the University of Leeds

Lifestyle-related diseases such as obesity, cancer and metabolic diseases represent one of the greatest challenges to health and wellbeing in the developed world. We believe human nutrition research is key to understanding and improving health in society. Our research-intensive group creates, advances and disseminates nutrition research to make an impact on population health.

Our work covers the full spectrum of nutrition research from nutritional epidemiology studies that assess the role of nutrition as an exposure influencing chronic disease outcomes, to mechanistic studies utilising state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology techniques such as proteomics and metabolomics to understand the mechanisms by which dietary components influence health and disease risk. Our research also extends to the evaluation of nutrition, physical activity and public health interventions to influence national and international policy.


  • A major impact from Professor Cade’s Nutritional Epidemiology group has been the creation of a University spin out company, Dietary Assessment Ltd, to support the development of a new online dietary assessment tool This tool has strong academic underpinning with detailed feasibility and validation studies. It includes a unique branded food composition table, is quick and easy to use, and provides real time feedback. Already in use for teaching as well as research. Notably versions have been developed for use in Australia, Germany, Denmark and Singapore, with more countries planned including an Arabic version, towards international reach for this work.
  • In addition, work from the UK Women’s Cohort Study, one of the largest and longest running studies of this type in the UK has led to changes in Government advice around consumption of caffeine in pregnancy and supported national guidance on sugar intake.
  • We have been selected to develop a WHO Collaborating Centre in Nutritional Epidemiology, the first of its kind in the world. We are supporting them with a range of tasks including work on National Diet and Nutrition Surveys in Europe and portion size determination.
  • Our group gathered and evaluated the scientific evidence underpinning the SACN report on Carbohydrates and Health, which led to changes in public health advice and dietary recommendations regarding sugar and fibre consumption. The report also led to recommendations to industry on sugar reduction in foods. Read the report.
  • Dietary advice for pregnant women - Research evidence from the Nutrition Epidemiology group has led to new advice for women regarding caffeine and alcohol consumption during pregnancy. Further information:

Links with industry

We are very strongly linked to industry with key links including: Unilever; Sugar Nutrition UK; Certera; Kellogg’s; PepsiCo and Innocent Smoothies who funded a project to understand the fibre structure in juices and smoothies.


Our research applies a variety of modern molecular, cellular biology techniques including high- transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics to study the mechanisms by which nutrients affect cell function and metabolism at the tissue, cellular and molecular levels. Significant investment (>£1 million) has gone into brand new modern molecular and proteomics laboratories alongside with a new mammalian class II cell culture facility. High performance computing helps support the work of the Epidemiology group, and some work is done in collaboration with Leeds Institute for Data Analytics.

We design, develop and evaluate interventions aimed at improving health for individuals and populations, or assess the impact of health policy and practice at population level in the UK and abroad. Accordingly we have facilities set up for running human studies including glycaemic and metabolic analysis trials with expertise in venous sampling, spirometry, anthropometry and body composition.

Research team

If you are interested in collaborating with us or joining our research team, please get in touch. View all members of the nutrition and public health group.


View our publications.

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective PhD students. Potential projects can be found in our postgraduate research opportunities directory.