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Elsie Widdowson CH CBE was a pioneer of dietetics and, along with Robert McCance, carried out research for around 60 years. They uncovered many aspects of understanding in human nutrition throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. They are also well known for undertaking much of the experimentation on themselves, including starvation diets. Their work was of vital importance during the Second World War and led to the publication of The Chemical Composition of Foods in 1940.

The BDA launched an annual memorial lecture in 2001 to honour her legacy. Each year the Board of Directors invites a senior member of the dietetic profession, who is deemed to be at the pinnacle of their career, to deliver the lecture on a topic of their choice. The lectures are always popular and attract considerable interest within the profession.

The Elsie Widdowson Memorial Lecture is organised and supported by the BDA General and Education Trust Fund. Each year since 2001, one senior member of the profession, at the pinnacle of their career, is invited to deliver the lecture on a topic of their choice.


Dr Angela Madden - Challenging dietetics: be curious, be critical and be kind

Dr Madden's lecture examined areas of dietetics that have changed direction as a result of practice, or where once standard approaches have been challenged by emerging evidence and subsequently revised. 

Inspired by Professor Elsie Widdowson’s major contribution to generating and applying scientific evidence, the lecture drew on Dr Madden’s clinical and research expertise using examples from gastroenterology and hepatology. She considered how evidence has changed past and current practice and how dietitians initiate, engage in and lead these developments.

Looking to the future, Dr Madden considered other potential areas of practice, calling on dietitians to continually be curious and critical about their practice and, where evidence suggests it, to challenge the status quo.

Professor Kevin Whelan - Modifying the microbiome in gut health and disease: research as the foundation of dietetic practice

Professor Whelan's lecture discussed the gastrointestinal microbiome, a complex ecosystem of trillions of bacteria. He considered how our understanding of its role in health and disease is rapidly expanding as a results of molecular microbiological techniques that can accurately characterise its composition and diversity as well as 'omics' technologies that measure its metabolic activity.

Professor Whelan provided an insight into the exciting research currently underway in the field, including studies and controlled trials of microbiome-modifying interventions and a wide range of disorders. He even shared some exclusive results - which can often be surprising!


Previous Lectures


Dr Angela Madden - Challenging dietetics: be curious, be critical and be kind


Professor Kevin Whelan - Modifying the microbiome in gut health and disease: research as the foundation of dietetic practice


Joyce Thompson - Realism in nutrition and dietetics


Dr Clare Shaw - Dietetics and Oncology: A Brief History of Time


Linda Hindle - Achieving our potential


Dr Miranda Lomer - From food additives to FODMAPs:
a dietetic journey through gastroenterology


Wendy Martinson OBE - Science into practice - What do Olympians really eat?


Judyth Jenkins MBE - C.H.I.P.S are good for you


Azmina Govindji - Use your influence to make an impact: could this be the era of the dietitian?


Rosemary Richardson – Modernisation of the NHS – will Dietitians become an endangered or protected species?


Diane Talbot – Nannying or Nuturing? Policies aimed at Changing Dietary Behaviour


Jane Thomas – The Challenge for Change


Gary Frost – Dietary Carbohydrates from Cells to Man


Patricia Judd – What's the Evidence – Practice, Advertising and the Popular Nutritionist


Anne de Looy – Are we ready for the challenges

2004 Sheila Bingham – What do people eat? Adventures in Nutritional Epidemiology
2003 Annie Anderson
2002 Margaret Lawson
2001 Susan Jebb