An inaugural meeting to be held this evening of a new parliamentary committee focused on evidence-based nutritional science will focus on the dual burden of malnutrition and obesity in the UK .
The all-party parliamentary group (APPG), Nutrition: Science and Health, aims to raise awareness and stimulate informed debate around regional, national, and global nutrition issues, and to champion the role of nutrition science to support evidence-based policymaking in tackling major health problems. Disease prevention, healthy ageing, food security, sustainable diets, nutrition in medical education, and animal nutrition are listed among key areas for the committee's work.
The group, launched in the House of Commons on 6 June, has been set up by the Nutrition Society in collaboration with Newcastle University. Its Chair, Tracey Crouch MP (Con. Chatham & Aylesford), who revealed a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2020 , said she knew "from personal experience how important an understanding of nutrition is to our health" and welcomed the opportunity "to bring together parliamentarians, scientists, researchers, charities, and the private sector to help debate the challenges and opportunities in nutrition science and health, and then develop recommendations for sustainable solutions".
Role of Nutrition in Reducing Disease and Lowering Healthcare Costs
During its first year, the APPG will hold an enquiry called 'the role of nutrition as the new preventative medicine', which will examine nutrition interventions to reduce the burden and costs on UK health services. The first hearing, held in the Commons this evening, will explore issues of malnutrition and obesity. It will hear evidence from Ian Macdonald, professor of metabolic physiology at the University of Nottingham, Greta Defeyter, professor in developmental psychology and director of the Healthy Living Lab, and Professor Charlotte Hardman from the Department of Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
In November, the committee will examine the impact of nutrition on cognition and mental health, dementia, Alzheimer's, and healthy ageing. The final part of the inquiry, in March 2024, will include the role that healthcare professionals can play in promoting "prevention and resilience through empowerment".
At the end of the inquiry, the APPG will publish a report on the findings together with recommendations for action for parliamentarians.
Professor Julie Lovegrove, president of the Nutrition Society, said: "Given the plasticity of the ageing process, nutrition interventions have the potential to support healthy ageing and reduce disease risk. With the Government's levelling up focus, and an ageing population at higher risk of malnutrition, the application of nutrition as a lower cost preventative medicine in the UK should be high on the political agenda."
Founding members of the APPG also include journalist and healthy food campaigner Baroness Boycott, and Labour Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Chi Onwurah MP .