Our achievements

Review the achievements of the British Nutrition Foundation over the years.

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Our achievements

The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) was established in as a charity in 1967 and our objects, established at that time, are still relevant today:

  • to advance the education of the public, and those involved in training and the education of others, in nutrition;  and,
  • to advance the study of and research into nutrition for the public benefit, and to disseminate and publish the useful results of such research.

The Foundation, a registered charity, delivers impartial, authoritative and evidence-based information on food and nutrition. Its vision is: Everyone to access healthy, sustainable diets. It works with an extensive network of contacts across academia, education and the food chain, and through BNF work programmes focussing on education in schools and nutrition science communication.

The key role of BNF’s Trustees is to ensure that the Foundation delivers its charitable aims, is impartial, transparent and acts with integrity. BNF’s Articles of Association require a majority of  members to be leading academics from the nutrition science community, supported by leaders in education, communication and the food chain.

BNF’s funding comes from a variety of sources including EU projects; contracts with national government departments and agencies; conferences, publications and training; membership subscriptions; donations and project grants from food producers and manufacturers, retailers and food service companies; funding from grant providing bodies, trusts and other charities. BNF is not a lobbying organisation nor does it endorse any products or engage in food advertising campaigns.


1967: The British Nutrition Foundation was set up in July 1967 by Professor Alastair Frazer, who became the first Director General. The Foundation was established as an independent organisation to stimulate research and education in the field of nutrition. Professor Fraser's vision was to use nutrition to prevent as well as treat disease and key to achieving this was forging a closer working relationship between physicians and the food industry. At the very beginning he consulted with others who shared his vision, such as physician Dr (later Professor) Monty Losowsky, who has maintained his relationship with BNF since those early days having held various positions over the years, and became one of its Scientific Governors in 1981. The composition of the Foundation's Council, right from the start, is testament to Professor Fraser's ability to draw together influential senior people from diverse backgrounds, to work together for the greater good.

1970: Following the death of Alastair Frazer, Miss Dorothy Hollingsworth and Professor Frank Young took over the respective responsibilities of Director General and President. Dorothy Hollingsworth, who led the Foundation from 1970-1977, had worked for the Ministry of Food during the latter part of World War II and alongside Sir Jack Drummond had helped to establish the National Food Survey during her time as a civil servant (1941-1970). During her time at the Foundation, she helped to widen its reputation as an independent authority on food and nutrition, and paved the way for international co-operation between Foundations around the world with similar interests.

Professor R A McCance was awarded the first BNF prize for distinguished research in nutrition. To mark the award, Professor McCance gave an inaugural lecture entitled Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the Royal College of Physicians. Other early recipients of this prize were Sir Rudolph Peters, Dr E Kodicek and Dame Harriette Chick, who in her 100th year introduced a presentation on her Studies on Rickets in Vienna 1919-1922. 

1973: The first BNF Annual Conference, Nutritional Problems in a Changing World, was held at Churchill College in Cambridge and was attended by 120 delegates from a range of backgrounds. The success of the conference paved the way for many more. Since 1994, the Foundation has regularly held conferences for scientific and health professional audiences and for teachers. Since 2004, events organized by the Foundation have been staged in other European countries, linked to our involvement in EU-funded collaborative projects.

1974: The first BNF newsletter was sent out to all member organisations. Today, BNF News and BNF Education News, available in hard copy and electronically via the website, provide information about the Foundation’s nutrition science and education programmes and details of forthcoming events. These are now supplemented by email alerts and are linked with website information.

1978: Dr Michael Turner took over as Director General and was succeeded in 1982 by Dr Derek Shrimpton. In 1980 the Foundation began publishing an International Newsletter (edited by Dr Turner), which collated information about the activities of around 10 Nutrition Foundations across Europe and as far afield as Australia, the USA, India and the Philippines. In 2009 the idea of closer collaboration was resurrected under the leadership of Prof. Judy Buttriss and the Foundation took on the responsibility of providing the secretariat and producing an e-newsletter for the network of European Nutrition Foundations.

1980: The first Briefing Paper, Snacks and Meals – Trends and Effects, was produced. Almost 50 Briefing Papers have since been published, providing detailed reviews of important areas of nutrition science. Briefing Papers are written by BNF nutritionists and are reviewed by the Foundation’s Advisory Committees. For over 10 years, they have been published in Nutrition Bulletin and have been made free to download after 12 months.

1981/82: The first Task Force, on Clinical Nutrition, was set up to investigate the state of undergraduate and postgraduate training of doctors in nutrition and the current state of clinical nutrition research in Britain. BNF Task Forces comprise internationally recognised scientific experts, brought together to address the problems of particular areas where the scientific evidence is uncertain and open to misinterpretation, or requires reviewing to help guide policy decisions. 

1985: Professor David Conning was Director General for 9 years (1985-1994) and in 1994 was awarded an OBE for his work on nutrition education. He was succeeded by Professor Brian Wharton (1994-1997).

1988: This was an extremely prestigious year for the Foundation. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal consented to become the Foundation’s Patron. As Guest of Honour at the Annual Luncheon, Her Royal Highness met members of the Foundation’s staff and delivered an after lunch speech. The patronage of The Princess Royal is highly valued and her active involvement in BNF activities is much appreciated.

1989: The first National Nutrition Education Conference (NNEC) was held in Harrogate with over 230 delegates attending. Such conferences are still held annually at a different location each year, and are primarily for teachers, lecturers and education advisers. Smaller regional conferences are arranged with the co-operation of local education authorities to provide an overview of contemporary nutrition matters for teachers of nutrition, food technology, home economics and health education. In 2007, BNF ran an ambitious ‘road show’ comprising education conferences in 12 venues across the UK. Since 2010 these conferences have been supplemented by e-Seminars for teachers and A-Level students.

1991: The first stage of Food – a fact of life, BNF’s food and nutrition programme for schools was launched by David McLean, Food Minister at the time. Aimed at 5-7 year olds, this pack was followed by Stage 2 (7-11 year olds) in 1993. Energy and Nutrients, the first unit for 11-16 year olds, was launched in 1995 and two further units for this age group, Diet and Health and Food Technology, were launched in Autumn 1997.

1992: The Foundation’s Silver Jubilee Year. The grand finale of the Foundation’s Young Scientist competition took place at a colloquium entitled Tomorrow’s Nutrition held on 7th July, attended by HRH the Princess Royal. Dr Susan Jebb was announced as overall winner for her presentation on the potential benefits of glutamine supplementation. Several similar events have been held over the intervening years.

1993: The Foundation moved to its offices in High Holborn, from Belgrave Square. Also during this year, Stephanie Valentine joined the Foundation and was promoted to Education Director in 1995, succeeding Gill Fine who had developed the Foundation’s education activities over a period of 9 years.

1994: From its early years, the Foundation has administered prizes and awards intended to stimulate interest in nutrition among undergraduates of medical, dental, food science and other such courses, and among school children taking GCSE/ Standard Grade and A-Level / Advanced Higher examinations. In 1994 the Denis Burkitt award was introduced for medical and nutrition science students in the UK and Ireland to undertake a project in developing countries. The awards were given annually until 2011. Also during this year, Dr Elsie Widdowson, Honorary President of the Foundation was made a Companion of Honour – the first female scientist ever to receive this accolade. This was also the year when Professor Brian Wharton joined the Foundation as Director General.

1995: The Foundation’s Food Technology Training Course for Teachers initiative was set up. Aiming to update teachers’ knowledge and experience of industrial food production, this course was run in collaboration with Cannington College, Glasgow Caledonian, Grimsby College, and Oxford Brookes and Manchester Metropolitan Universities. The courses, in England, ran for a number of years and also took place in Scotland.

1997: The first residential conference organised by BNF to include contributed papers and posters was held at Wye College in conjunction with the Royal Society of Chemistry. ‘Functional Foods 97 – the consumer, the products and the evidence’ attracted speakers and delegates from all over the world. Another first for the Foundation in 1997 was the launch of the BNF website at the 30th Anniversary conference on 5th July. The website (www.nutrition.org.uk) carries details about the Foundation, its scientific and educational activities, publications and conferences. The website, has since had ‘face lifts’ over the years and has also won awards.

1997: Professor Robert Pickard succeeded Professor Brian Wharton (1994-1997) as Director General and established the Foundation’s ‘duty nutrition service’ for journalists and the ‘Friends of BNF’ group for volunteers interested in supporting the work of the Foundation.

1998: Dr Judy Buttriss joined the Foundation as Science Director and in 1999 won a contract with the UK government, the first of a series, to conduct a critical review of MAFF’s Optimal Nutritional Status research programme. Others that have followed are a review of the antioxidants in food research programme for the FSA (2002), a review for the FSA on the factors affecting food choice (2003) and a formal systematic review for the FSA of the evidence concerning early diet and food sensitisation/allergy (2007).

1999: The Foundation was honoured that in 1999 Professor Dame Barbara Clayton (Honorary Research Professor in Metabolism at the University of Southampton) took on the role of Honorary President, on the retirement of Sir Douglas Black (Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Manchester). Dame Barbara was a particularly active and supportive Honorary President, attending conferences and events and even chairing a Task Force. She retired from the role in 2008. During 1999, BNF also published its Task Force report on Obesity, chaired by Professor John Garrow, which provided a review of the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of obesity.

2000: The Foundation’s Education Group was awarded an EU-funded contract to develop an interactive CD-ROM, Teaching Food Safety, and 60,000 copies were distributed around the world. Interactive Food Facts, a CD-ROM for secondary schools, was also launched. Both CDs were also translated into Welsh. Also this year the Foundation published its Task Force report on Oral Health: Diet and other factors, which reviewed the role of nutrition in the aetiology and prevention of oral diseases.

2001: The Foundation’s Science Group was awarded the first in a series of contracts for EU-funded science projects, for the dissemination project FLAIR FLOW 4. This was followed in 2003 by Ob-Age, by Lipgene in 2004, EuroFIR in 2005, ProSafeBeef in 2007 and EuroFIR Nexus in 2010. The 3-year FP7 EU Project CommNet began in 2011, followed by 4-year Bacchus in 2012. For each of these projects, BNF has had a dissemination and communications role. Also in 2001, Catering for Health was launched. This is a practical training guide for teaching healthier catering that BNF produced on behalf of the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Health. Also published that year was a new Task Force Report on Adverse Reactions to Food, chaired by BNF’s Honorary President, Professor Dame Barbara Clayton.

2003: The Department for Education and Skills contracted the Foundation and consortium partners to establish the Food Partnership programme, training secondary school food specialists to work with primary school teacher colleagues to promote practical cookery. This scheme continued to grow throughout England and ended in 2010. The Report of a Task Force, Plants: Diet and Health, chaired by Prof Malcolm Jackson was also published.

2004: The Foundation was contracted by the Food Standards Agency to conduct a critical review of the psychological basis of food choice and by the Department of Health to run the Healthier Lunchbox pilot project in the South East government region and subsequently to produce the Food in Schools Toolkit on its behalf.

2005: Food –A fact of life, a BNF website for primary schools, was launched with a module on healthy eating and modules on cooking and food skills. Modules on food and farming followed in 2006 and 2007. Also, in 2005, a Task Force Report on Cardiovascular Disease: Diet, Nutrition and Emerging Risk Factors, chaired by Prof Keith Frayn, was published.

2006: The Science Team worked with DEFRA on a project to scope research needs in the area of functional crops and ingredients, which included a BNF-hosted workshop, and with the National Audit Office on a project concerning the food and exercise opportunities offered in prisons.

2007: In BNF’s 40th Anniversary year we had a change of Director General. Professor Robert Pickard retired after 10 years at the Foundation and was succeeded by Professor Judy Buttriss who had joined the Foundation as Science Director in 1998. A number of special events and activities were developed to show case the work of the Foundation during the year, including conferences for nutrition researchers and health professionals, an around Britain ‘road show’ comprising 12 conferences for teachers, a special supplement of Nutrition Bulletin focusing on diet and cognitive function, and a briefing paper discussing changes in dietary behaviour and nutrient intakes since the Second World War.

2008: BNF published a systematic review on food sensitisation and peanut allergy, conducted on behalf of the FSA, to inform government advice. The findings of the review were also presented to the government’s Committee on Toxicity. This year also saw the Foundation awarded a series of new contracts, including an extension of the government’s License to Cook programme, as part of a consortium with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and the Design and Technology Association.

2009: The Foundation’s Task Force Report on Healthy Ageing: The Role of Nutrition and Lifestyle was published and a conference held to launch it, which was attended by 170 delegates. Two Briefing Papers were published on Culinary oils and their health effects and Satiation, satiety and their effects on eating behaviour. The new-look BNF website was also launched this year, with new content and improved search and e-commerce functions.

2010: With the help of an expert panel, BNF published a review on hydration and health in Nutrition Bulletin and developed a healthy hydration guide for consumers. This was followed by a BNF conference on hydration and health in November. Also this year, BNF launched its e-seminar programme for teachers and began work with the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board to support the management and development of its Meat and Education Programme. During this year the Foundation welcomed Professor Alan Shenkin as its new Honorary President.

2011: Stephanie Valentine retired and Roy Ballam, who had joined the Foundation in 1995, took over responsibility for BNF’s education programme, working alongside BNF’s Science Programme Manager, Sara Stanner, who had joined the Foundation in 1999. During the year, new consumer-focused sections of the BNF website and a twitter account, Nutrition for Baby, were launched, with tailored information and advice on nutrition and health before, during and after pregnancy. BNF also published a Briefing Paper reviewing the diets of school-aged children in the UK, including the factors affecting their food choices and physical activity habits. This year saw the completion of the European Food Framework project, a two-year project which involved the development of resources to support the teaching and learning of children and young people throughout Europe. Also this year, BNF joined the Information Standard certification scheme for health and social care information.

2012: For the Foundation’s 45th anniversary, BNF held a conference on Behaviour change in relation to healthier lifestyles, attended by our patron HRH the Princess Royal. A special issue of Nutrition Bulletin was published in March 2013 with a selection of papers on this topic. Also this year, BNF was selected to take over administration of the Drummond Memorial Fund, which is being used to develop a programme of initiatives in the spirit of the original fund (namely to advance the knowledge of nutrition and promote education and research), to extend the reach of current BNF activities and to add value to the Foundation’s existing work. The programme includes a series of new awards for outstanding nutrition science communication and pump priming grants for newly appointed lecturers in nutrition. Another highlight of this year was the launch of the Foundation’s online training platform and the first of a series of modular courses on food, health and nutrition.

2013: BNF published its Task Force report Nutrition and Development: Short- and long-term Consequences for Health in May, together with a range of website resources to disseminate key findings. In June BNF held its first Healthy Eating Week for all schools and nurseries in the UK, with the aim of promoting healthy diets (food and drink), physical activity and to improve the understanding of where food comes from. Over 3000 schools participated in the event, representing 1.3 million children and young people and the event received substantial media coverage, achieving a combined circulation of over 340 million. Another major activity for the year was the development and launch of the Foundation’s new 5-year strategy (2013-2017), which focuses on the core activities of nutrition science and education and builds on successful partnership working to deliver the Foundation’s core purpose of making nutrition science accessible to all.

2014: In its second year 4400 schools registered for BNF Healthy Eating Week, representing 1.75 million pupils. As in 2013, there was live TV breakfast-time coverage. BNF worked with government throughout the UK to update the core competences for children and young people aged 5-16 years. We developed extensive resources, in the form of Schemes of Work and lesson plans, to support the introduction of Cooking and nutrition in the new National Curriculum in England. BNF ran six training courses, as well as 12 online events, to further support high quality food education teaching and learning by facilitating valuable curricula, nutrition and planning updates and networking opportunities for teachers. Also this year, BNF launched a range of ‘Back to Basics’ resources on the website, providing additional information for consumers to show how to put the eatwell plate into practice in the context of recognisable meals and snacks. In addition to this, BNF worked with an expert panel to develop a food-based guide on healthy eating for toddlers.

2017: BNF celebrated its 50th anniversary. See booklet for an overview of the first 50 years - click here.

Celebrating 50 Years

A booklet celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2017.

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Quick facts
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Health professional

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