The Society's Widdowson Award, previously known as the Public Health Nutrition Award, recognises excellence in the field of Public Health Nutrition. The award is named after Dr Elsie Widdowson CH CBE FRS who was a pioneering figure in nutrition in the middle decades of the last century and who was a former President of the Society from 1977 until 1980.
The award will be awarded to scientists who have had a significant impact on local, regional, national or international policy or delivery, or the evidence base in public health nutrition.
- 2014, Dr Mary Flynn, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Priority Areas for Public Health Nutrition Action using the Ottawa Charter
- 2015, Mr Jamie Blackshaw, Public health nutrition in the civil service: approaches to obesity
- 2016, Dr Charlotte Evans, University of Leeds, UK, Sugars and health: current evidence and future policy
Dr Elsie Widdowson, CH, CBE, FRS, DSc (1906 – 2000) graduated in Chemistry atImperial College London in1928, and obtained her PhDon the carbohydrate content ofapples in 1931. The turning pointin her career was in 1933 when she decided to goto Kings CollEge Hospital to learn about largescalecooking before starting a dietetics course.
Whilst on a trip to the kitchens at Kings College Hospital, Dr Widdowson came into contactwith Dr Robert McCance, who was analysing plantfoods for carbohydrates in order to plan diabeticdiets. This led to a scientific partnership,whichwas to last sixty years. It helped shape war timerationing and the British loaf; paved the way forlater work on the damage that poornutrition in childhood does to adulthealth and provided the core forevery nutritional database in usein the world today.
Their book The Chemical Composition of Foods became so widely known on itspublication in 1940,that with subsequenteditions, their namespassed into every title,linking them with thefield they hadmade their own. In addition, this fundamental publication was the beginning of a new era in scientific investigation in which human diets and nutrient intakes could be investigated in relation to disease risk.
In the years that followed, Dr Widdowson received a number of honours including the Sanderson-Wells Lecturer in 1970, became a Fellow at the Royal Society in 1976, the President of the Nutrition Society between 1977 and 1980, received the James Spence Medal from the British Paediatric Association in 1981, received the Rank Prize Funds prize for nutrition in 1984, to name but a few.
For seven yearsprior to herdeath on 14 June 2000, Dr ElsieWiddowson was the most highlyhonoured woman scientist inBritain, having been appointedto be a Companion of Honour(an order of the Commonwealth realms founded in June 1917 by King George V, as a reward for outstanding achievements and is presented to a limited number of persons for whom this special distinction seems to be the most appropriate form of recognition, constituting an honour disassociated either from the acceptance of title or the classification of merit)in 1993
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