Professor Michelle Holdsworth PhD, RD, RNutr


Professor of Public Health 

The University of Sheffield
Section of Public Health
ScHARR (School of Health and Related Research)
Regent Court
30 Regent Street
S1 4DA

Tel: +44(0)114 222 0723

Office:  Room G033b, Ground Floor, Regent Court


ORCiD: 0000-0001-6028-885X


I joined the Public Health section of ScHARR (School of Health and Related Research) in 2011 and I am a Professor of Public Health and lead the Food and Nutrition research group in the School.  I studied human nutrition as an undergraduate and then completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics.  After working in various NHS community and public health posts, I developed research interests in incorporating the use of evidence to community nutrition interventions and went on to study for a PhD in Public Health. Since then I have pursued a career in academic public health nutrition, working for 4 years at the University of Nottingham, as Lecturer then Associate Professor and for 8 years in Montpellier, France as a Senior Civil Servant Researcher - conducting research and capacity building work in public health nutrition, mainly in francophone Africa, for the Government funded Institute of Research for Development (IRD).  I have advised various research bodies in Europe about research strategy development, as well as being invited on numerous occasions to speak about my research overseas. I lead the 'Sustainable diets for human health' theme in the University of Sheffield's Sustainable Food Futures research group.

Research Interests

My research combines qualitative and quantitative approaches to answer interdisciplinary research questions in public health nutrition.  My research approach uses a socio-ecological approach to investigate the determinants of dietary behaviour of individuals within social, physical and macro-level environments, followed by studies of policy development that directly feed into informing preventive strategies.

  • Individual level determinants of diet (attitudes, preferences, knowledge; skills; socio-demographic factors; BMI).
  • Social determinants of diet (social practices, social norms, social capital, social networks, cost).
  • Physical determinants of diet (food environments in neighbourhoods, schools and workplaces).
  • Macro-level determinants of diet (policy, societal cultural norms and values, marketing, government and stakeholder 'readiness')

I have significant research experience which has involved working in different cultural contexts (especially the UK, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and more recently in Asia), falling broadly within four areas of public health nutrition: i. Dietary change in transitioning urban cities in low and middle-income countries, ii. Migration and its impact on dietary behaviours and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, iii. Obesity policy development; and iv. Integrating environmental sustainability into nutrition policy.

Teaching Interests

I am Director of the Erasmus Mundus EuroPubHealth programme.  I was Director of Learning and Teaching for ScHARR until 2015 with strategic responsibility for our postgraduate programmes in health.  I also supervise MPH dissertations and several PhD students.

Professional Activities

I am a  Registered Nutritionist and Registered Dietitian (DT4488) in the UK.  I am also a member of the UK Nutrition Society (International Nutrition and Public Health themes).

Current Research Projects

  • Drivers of Food Choice Competitive Grants Program Dietary transitions in Ghanaian cities: mapping the factors in the social and physical food environments that drive consumption of energy dense nutrient-poor foods and beverages, to identify interventions targeting women and adolescent girls throughout the reproductive life course; 2017-2019.  I lead the project.
  • TACLED project: Transitions in African Cities Leveraging Evidence for Diet-related non communicable diseases This is a MRC-led Foundation Award to study dietary transitions in African cities in Ghana and Kenya. Foundation Awards represent the MRC's first phase of research funding anticipated from the £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund. This interdisciplinary partnership of ten co-applicants from five academic institutions across Ghana, Kenya and the UK. The project will start 1st April 2017-2019. I lead the project.
  • The Evidence-informed Decision-making in Nutrition and Health (EVIDENT) partnership - an international network of North-South partners that aims to use existing evidence to also enhance evidence-informed decision making and policy-driven research in nutrition and health in Africa.
  • Health Promoting responses to climate change Climate change and non-communicable diseases share a mutual theme - excessive energy use.  This suggests opportunities for mutual solutions; interventions that reduce both greenhouse emissions and simultaneously lower the risk of diet-related non-communicable diseases.
  • Health Outcomes of Migration Events  This project brings together researchers with a wide range of expertise, including innovative methodological approaches, nutrition, non-communicable diseases, maternal and child health, epidemiology, and demography.  We are synthesising the existing evidence base around both internal and external migration effects and its impact on life course determinants on health.

Recent projects

  • Determinants of Diet and Physical Activity (DEDIPAC) Knowledge Hub Funded by the EC. To understand the determinants of dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviours across Europe. I am task leader investigating social inequalities in dietary and physical activity determinants, especially in migrant populations in Europe. DEDIPAC is a multidisciplinary consortium of scientists from 46 research centres in 12 countries across Europe.
  • Social Networks and Obesity
    The role of social networks in preventing obesity.  NHS Nottingham City (Flexibility and Sustainability Funding) to investigate the social determinants of obesity in deprived communities with a focus on the role of family, intergenerational and community social networks.  I led the project. (2012-2013)
  • SUNRAY (Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in years to come) Funded by the EC (Framework 7) to investigate sustainable solutions to improve nutritional status in Africa - tackling obesity and under-nutrition.  My main contribution was to use Multi-Criteria Mapping to explore stakeholders' viewpoints for a new nutrition research strategy for Africa. (2011-2013)
  • ALIMI (Food culture and migration in France, Mali and Morocco), financed by the French National Research Council.  Coordinated by the Food Sociology team of the School of Higher Studies in Social Science (EHESS-CNRS) Paris.  I led on the aspects assessing changing body size norms (2009-2013).
  • OBE-MAGHREB (Understanding nutrition transition in the Maghreb to prevent obesity and chronic disease) funded by the French Ministry of Overseas Affairs and DG International Development and Cooperation).  Conducted in Morocco and Tunisia.  I led on Assessing stakeholder views of policy options to prevent obesity using a Multi-Criteria mapping approach. (2007-2012).

PhD Supervision

I supervise several research students for their PhDs  in topics related to my research interests above.

Recent publications (last 5 years)

Osei-Kwasi HA, Nicolaou M, Powell K, Terragni L, Maes L, Stronks K, Lien N, Holdsworth M (2016) Systematic mapping review of the factors influencing dietary behaviour in ethnic minority groups living in Europe: a DEDIPAC study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 13(1):85. doi: 10.1186/s12966-016-0412-8.

Verstraeten R, Leroy JL, Pieniak Z, Ochoa-Avilès A, Holdsworth M, Verbeke W, Maes L, Kolsteren P (2016) Individual and Environmental Factors Influencing Adolescents' Dietary Behavior in Low- and Middle-Income Settings. PLoS One. 22;11(7):e0157744.

Sullivan RK, Marsh S, Halvarsson J, Holdsworth M, Waterlander W, Poelman MP, Salmond JA, Christian H, Koh LS, Cade JE, Spence JC, Woodward A, Maddison R (2016). Smartphone Apps for Measuring Human Health and Climate Change Co-Benefits: A Comparison and Quality Rating of Available Apps. MIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2016 Dec 19;4(4):e135

Chastin S, De Craemer M, Lien N, Bernaards C, Buck C, Oppert J, Nazare J, Lakerveld J, O’Donoghue G, Holdsworth M, Owen N, Brug J, Cardon G (2016) The SOS-framework (Systems of Sedentary behaviours): an international transdisciplinary consensus framework for the study of determinants, research priorities and policy on sedentary behaviour across the life course: a DEDIPAC-study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 13(1):83. doi: 10.1186/s12966-016-0409-3.

Condello G, Ling FC, Bianco A, Chastin S, Cardon G, Ciarapica D, Conte D, Cortis C, De Craemer M, Di Blasio A, Gjaka M, Hansen S, Holdsworth M et al (2016). Using concept mapping in the development of the EU-PAD framework (EUropean-Physical Activity Determinants across the life course): a DEDIPAC-study. BMC Public Health. 9;16(1):1145.

Hassen WS, Castetbon K, Cardon P, Enaux C, Nicolaou M, Lien N, Terragni L, Holdsworth M, Stronks K, Hercberg S, Méjean C (2016). Socioeconomic indicators are independently associated with nutrient intake in French adults: a DEDIPAC study. Nutrients. 8, 158; doi:10.3390/nu8030158.

Clonan A, Roberts KE and Holdsworth M (2016) Socioeconomic and demographic drivers of red and processed meat consumption: implications for health and environmental sustainability. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society;75(3):367-73. doi: 10.1017/S0029665116000100.

Cohen E, Ndao A, Boëtsch G, Gueye L, Pasquet P, Holdsworth M, Courtiol A (2015). Body shape variation and the use of side-views in body size scales for public health: an example from two African populations. BMC Public Health 15:1169. DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-2511-x.

Powell K, Wilcox J, Clonan A, Bissell P, Preston L, Peacock M, Holdsworth M (2015). The role of social networks in the development of overweight and obesity among adults: a scoping review. BMC Public Health 15:996.

Lawrence M, Burlingame B, Caraher M, Holdsworth M, Nett R, Timotjevic L (2015) Public Health Nutrition and Sustainability.  Public Health Nutrition. 18(13): 2287-92.

Powell K, Wilcox J, Clonan A, Bissell P, Preston L, Peacock M, Holdsworth M (2015) The role of social networks in the development of overweight and obesity among adults: a scoping review.  BMC Public Health. 15:996 DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-2314-0.

Landais E, Bour A, Gartner A, McCullough F, Delpeuch F, Holdsworth M (2015) Socio-economic and behavioural determinants of fruit and vegetable intake in Moroccan women.  Public Health Nutrition: 18(5):809-16.

Hayati Adilin MAM, Holdsworth M, McCullough F, Swift JA, Norimah AK (2015) Whole school mapping to investigate the school environment's potential to promote a healthy diet and physical activity in Malaysia.  Malaysian Journal of Nutrition 21(1): 1-14.

Clonan A, Wilson P, Swift JA, Leibovici DG, Holdsworth M (2015) Red and processed meat consumption and purchasing behaviours and attitudes: impacts for human health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.  Public Health Nutrition. 18(13):2446-56.

Lachat C, Roberfroid D, Van den Broeck L, Van den Briel N, Nago E, Kruger A, Holdsworth M, Garimoi Orach C, Kolsteren P (2015) A decade of nutrition research in Africa: assessment of the evidence base and academic collaboration.  Public Health Nutrition.  18(10):1890-7.

Holdsworth M, Kruger AM, Nago-Koukoubou E, Mamiro P, Smit K, Garimoi-Orach C, Kameli Y, Lachat C, Roberfroid D, Kolsteren P (2014) African stakeholder views of research options to improve nutritional status in sub-Saharan Africa in the years to come.  Health Policy and Planning.  30(7): 863-874.

Relton C, Li J, Strong M, Holdsworth M, Cooper R and Bissell P (2014) Deprivation, clubs and drugs: results of a UK regional population-based cross-sectional study of weight management strategies.  BMC Public Health 14:444
doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-14-444

Lachat C, Roberfoid D, van den Broeck L, Holdsworth M, van den Briel N, Nago E, Kruger AM, Garimoi Orach C, Kolsteren P (2014) Developing a sustainable nutrition research agenda in Africa in the years to come - findings from the SUNRAY project.  Plos Medicine, 11 (1): e1001593

Landais E, Gartner A, Bour A, McCullough F, Delpeuch F, Holdsworth M (2014)
Reproducibility and relative validity of a brief quantitative food frequency questionnaire for assessing fruit and vegetable intakes in North-African women.  Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.  2014 Apr: 27 Suppl 2:152-9

Verstraeten R, Van Royen K, Ochoa-Aviles A, Penafiel D, Holdsworth M, Donoso S. Maes L, Kolseteren P (2013) A conceptual framework for healthy eating behaviour in Ecuadorian adolescents: a qualitative study.  Plos One.  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087183

Van Royen K, Lachat C, Holdsworth M, Smit K, Kinabo J, Roberfroid D, Nago E, GarimoiOrach C, Kolsteren P (2013) How can operating environment for nutrition research be improved in sub-Saharan Africa?  The views of African researchers, Plos On.  Vol 8,1-9.

Landais E, Gartner A, Bour A, McCullough F, Delpeuch F, Holdsworth M.  (2013) Reproducibility and relative validity of a quantitative food frequency questionnaire for assessing fruit and vegetable intakes in North-African women.  Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 27(2):152-9.

Holdsworth M, Bour A, Elati J, Kameli Y,  Derouiche A, Millstone E, Delpeuch F. (2012) Developing national obesity policy in middle-income countries: a case study from North Africa.  Health Policy and Planning(2012 Dec 10) Epub ahead of print.

Clonan A, Holdsworth M.(2012) The challenges of eating a healthy and sustainable diet.  Editorial.
 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  96: 3 459-460

Verstraeten R, Roberfroid D, Lachat C, Leroy J, Holdsworth M, Maes L, Kolsteren K.(2012) Effectiveness of preventive school-based obesity interventions in low-and middle-income countries: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 96:227-8

Relton C, Strong M, Holdsworth M. (2012) Plastic food packaging encourages obesity. British Medical Journal 344


Holdsworth M, Aryeetey RNO, Jerling J, Taljaard C, Nago E, Colecraft E, Lachat C, Kolsteren P, Hailu T, Verstraeten R (2016). The challenges, opportunities and lessons learned in evidence-informed decision making in Africa 115-129. In Covic, N. and S. L. Hendriks (Eds). Achieving a Nutrition Revolution for Africa: The Road to Healthier Diets and Optimal Nutrition. ReSAKSS Annual Trends and Outlook Report 2015. International Food Policy Research Institute.

Holdsworth M, Bricas N (2015) In: Torquebiau Emmanuel (ed.) [Climate change: impact on diet and nutrition] in: 'Changement climatique et agricultures du monde' Versailles: Ed. Quae.p.213-224. (Agriculture et defis du monde).

Webster-Gandy J, Madden A, Holdsworth M. (2011)
Oxford Handbook of Nutrition and Dietetics
Oxford University Press.  Oxford Handbook Series 2nd edition. 

Delpeuch F, Maire B, Monnier E, Holdsworth M. (2009)
Globesity - a planet out of control.
Taylor and Francis Books