The primary aim of external engagement is to raise the external profile of the Society with Government, the food industry and other professions, in the UK. All activities revolve around the dissemination of nutrition science, with the aim of the Society being recognised as one of the leading Learned Societies for evidence-based nutritional science.
To date, activities include:
- actively responding to public and closed consultation responses with affiliated bodies such as the Royal Society and the Royal Society for Biology and working on joint projects together,
- supporting/attending All Party Parliamentary Groups and attending stakeholder meetings to advise on the scientific underpinning of policy. The Society has developed its profile within Parliament with engagement in STEM for Britain, Voice of the Future, Parliamentary Links Day, and by supporting a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups,
- making a regular contribution to Complete Nutrition magazine; a publication aimed at those working in the health service and four articles a year to Intouch, BAPENS membership magazine.
Engaging with the Public
The UK, Scottish and European Parliaments have recognised the importance of researchers engaging with non-specialist ‘public’ or community audiences. If scientists do not engage with the public then it is often the media that rushes to plug the gap, often with information which may not be scientifically evidence-based. There are many different models and opportunities for researchers in the UK to engage with a community audience, it is likely, for instance that the UK has the best-developed programme of science festivals per head of population of anywhere in the world. It is particularly important for nutrition researchers to engage with a community/non-specialist audience to ensure the importance of using evidence-based data is clearly understood.
The Society remains active in developing its programme of external engagement. A variety of approaches have been piloted, including events at major science festivals, Food Matters Live, and events at science centres.
Association for Nutrition (AfN)
In 2010, the Society relinquished direct responsibility for the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists and passed it on to the Association for Nutrition (AfN), together with the responsibility for setting professional standards in the practice of nutrition, supporting registered nutritionists and promoting the professionalisation of the nutrition workforce. The Society continues to work closely with the AfN, participating in regular Trustee-to-Trustee meetings to share strategic thinking, and updates on activities.