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.
This Award will be awarded in 2020. Further details including application criteria and how to apply will be available soon. If you would like to be the first to be informed when further information is available, please contact us.
- 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 at Imperial College London in1928, and obtained her PhD on the carbohydrate content of apples in 1931. The turning point in her career was in 1933 when she decided to go to Kings College Hospital to learn about large scale cooking before starting a dietetics course.
Whilst on a trip to the kitchens at Kings College Hospital, Dr Widdowson came into contact with Dr Robert McCance, who was analysing plant foods for carbohydrates in order to plan diabetic diets. This led to a scientific partnership, which was to last sixty years. It helped shape war time rationing and the British loaf; paved the way for later work on the damage that poor nutrition in childhood does to adult health and provided the core for every nutritional database in use in the world today.
Their book The Chemical Composition of Foods became so widely known on its publication in 1940, that with subsequent editions, their names passed into every title, linking them with the field they had made 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 years prior to her death on 14 June 2000, Dr Elsie Widdowson was the most highly honoured woman scientist in Britain, having been appointed to 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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