Ref NoGB 0809 Nutrition
Extent310 boxes
TitleNutrition collection
DescriptionThe collection consists of material concerned with study and research of human nutrition in all its aspects for the most part of the twentieth century created and collected by LSHTM staff between the 1940s and 1990s.

The material ranges from raw data and evaluative work to teaching material and background research papers. The material originates from nearly every country in the world with a greater emphasis on the former British Colonies. Much of the material relates to specific projects and campaigns carried out across the globe from the inter-war period up until around the mid-1990s. The collection is particularly rich in material relating to research on obesity, malnutrition, protein requirements, Second World War diets, health promotion and the diets and health of specific groups, including children, teenagers, prisoners of war and the elderly.

Broadly the material falls into geographical and sometimes subject-based divisions. As well as material from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Pacific regions, there is a large slide collection formerly used by the Department of Human Nutrition for lectures and teaching. There is material concerning the administration of the Department and the Applied Nutrition Unit and significant collections resulting from the work of individual Professors of Nutrition, namely Professors Platt, Waterlow, Payne and Shetty.

In addition, there is a significant amount of 'grey' literature which is classified as unpublished reports and papers. This material should be considered rare, even though some of it may not be unique. As well as unpublished or not widely circulated papers, there is an extensive amount of government reports originating from Africa, Asia and the Americas, some of which may not exist elsewhere. There is also a small collection of maps.
AdminHistoryAlthough much work in nutrition had been undertaken by LSHTM from its foundation in 1924, when the teaching of nutrition was included on the syllabus of various departments, a formal nutrition department was not created until 1946. Professor Benjamin Platt, who was also then Director of the Human Nutrition Research Unit (HNRU) of the Medical Research Council, was appointed head of the Department of Human Nutrition in 1946 and Dr Dean A Smith was appointed senior lecturer in 1947.

Initially the work of the department was closely bound to the HNRU of the MRC and also with the Colonial Medical Research Committee through its Nutrition Sub-Committee. After the foundation of the department there was a shift in the focus of the School's nutrition work from assessing data from surveys to undertaking large scale inter-disciplinary studies in British colonies and former colonies. This was partly due to an increased awareness of public health problems in the colonies and also because project funding for nutrition research came from the Colonial Office.

The Applied Nutrition Unit was set up in 1952, in the first instance until 1956, funded by the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds. The unit provided information and training on nutrition to colonial and newly independent countries. It was very closely attached to the nutrition department and helped to expand the School's overseas research. It was closed in 1960 due to lack of funds.

The late 1950s and 1960s saw a slight move away from the department's multi-disciplinary field studies towards more diverse research into specific aspects of nutrition, including protein deficiency, hospital diets, the elderly, nutritional aspects of psycho-social deprivation and the diets of workers.

Following the death of Professor Platt in 1969, John Waterlow was appointed Professor of Human Nutrition in 1970 and remained in this post until 1982. The department's significant areas of research in this period included protein metabolism, malabsorption, and a range of DHSS funded public health research projects concerning pre-school children, pregnant women and the elderly.

In 1977, the Nutrition Policy Unit, which was funded by Overseas Development Administration and headed by Professor Philip Payne, was established at the School. The unit's aim was to reveal the nature and extent of nutrition problems and work with governments to provide training to introduce nutrition policy into government planning. The unit had a global remit and undertook nutrition surveillance programmes in the UK, India, Costa Rica, Turkey and Nepal.

Research undertaken by the School in the field of nutrition in the 1980s and 1990s was diverse and responsive to the world's nutrition and public health problems. Work by School staff on nutrition in this period included: research into environmental and genetic factors on energy requirements and obesity; diets of vegetarians and vegans; famine risk monitoring; food supplements; diet in lone parent and low income families; emergency feeding programmes; nutrition and the low birth rate of babies; diabetes and obesity and nutrition of the elderly.

During the late 1980s and 1990s the administration of nutrition programmes at the School was reorganised to aid collaboration between the School's different units and centres in tackling the inter-disciplinary nature of nutrition and public health. In 1988, the Department of Human Nutrition was renamed the Centre for Human Nutrition and was subsumed into the Department of Public Health and Policy. In 1996, the Centre for Human Nutrition was renamed the Public Health Nutrition Unit and was placed within the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health. In 2003, the Public Health Nutrition Unit was merged with Public Health Intervention Research Unit to form the Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Unit.

Nutrition staff at the School included: Benjamin Platt (professor and head of department, 1946-1969); Dean Smith (lecturer, 1947-1950); Miss Margaret Grant (assistant lecturer, 1948-1960); John Waterlow (researcher, 1948-1949; professor and head of department, 1970-1982); R Scott MacGregor (lecturer, 1952-1955); Cicely Williams (lecturer, 1953-1955); G R Wadsworth (lecturer, 1955-1970); Wallace Aykroyd (lecturer, 1960-1965); Trewavas Eddy (researcher and lecturer, 1959 -1973); Philip Payne (researcher, lecturer and professor, 1948-1990; head of department, 1982-1988); Erica Wheeler (researcher and lecturer, 1962-1988; head of the nutrition centre, 1988-1992); WPT James (lecturer, 1970-1974); David Millward (researcher and lecturer, 1970-1987); Ann Ashworth-Hill (lecturer and professor, 1978- 2003); Mary Griffiths (researcher and lecturer, 1981-1987) and Prakash Shetty (professor 1993-2001; head of nutrition unit, 1996-2001).

There were also many attached workers and nutritionists, such as Miss D Langley, Miss J C Chettle (Craig), Miss P Whitby, Dr P W R Morpurgo, Mrs Joyce Doughty (nee Griffiths) and Miss C Vernon Smith.
Related MaterialLSHTM library holds a large amount of published material that was formerly contained in the original collection and complements the projects and research evidenced in the collection. LSHTM Archives holds the papers of Professor Waterlow, who was closely related to the work of the department during the 1970s and 1980s.

The Wellcome Library ( holds a large collection of archives relating to nutrition, including physiology and biochemistry research, nutrition surveys, nutrition and public health dissemination and nutrition in the tropics.
ArrangementRecords have been arranged into series by provenance.
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