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Department of Sociology

University of Warwick

Coventry CV4 7AL

tel: ++24 765 23549

fax: ++ 24 765 23497

A Registered Public Health Nutritionist, my research is on the social, policy and political dimensions of food and human nutrition. I work collaboratively, with colleagues from many different disciplines and sectors, in the UK, elsewhere in Europe and in different countries within the majority world. In recent years my main areas of research have been on implementing a rights-based approach to food poverty and insecurity; food and nutrition in mediating inequalities in health, and in poverty definition and measurement; and evaluation of policy intervention at local and national levels. I have explored consumers’ identities and perceptions of ‘risk’ and ‘trust’ in relation to food and new technologies, and the implications of negotiated new relationships with producers and the food system. The ethical dimensions of research and practice within the food system are a new area of research. All these contribute to inquiry over the location of ‘food and nutrition’ within the policy process.


I have qualitative and quantitative research skills, and have managed a number of research projects, often across institutions. For 20 years my main work base was an international, multidisciplinary, public health teaching and research institution (LSHTM); in 2000 I moved to social policy within sociology (University of Warwick). I was a consultant for international agencies in the 1980s and early 1990s (on nutritional surveillance, monitoring and evaluation; nutrition in health, agricultural and development planning; nutrition advocacy training for professionals from health, agriculture, statistics and planning). In the UK I have worked as consultant to NHS Scotland, Department of Health England, Food Standards Agency, and a Regional Development Authority among others (on evaluation of food and nutrition policy, food access and food poverty, nutritional advocacy, local food initiatives, and social policy).


summary recent/current research:

  • food security: implications for biosciences and social sciences (with Warwick Crop centre);
  • evaluation diet and nutrition strategy implementation at national and local levels;
  • exploring ‘reconnection’ between consumers, producers and food, through ‘alternative’ systems;
  • evaluation of policy intervention in food and nutrition for deprived households;
  • food access and food security in social deprivation, measurement and policy response;
  • sustainability of community food projects as policy instrument for addressing inequalities;
  • measuring diet in low income households;
  • public perceptions of BSE/CJD and ‘risk in food’, media and policy responses



Appointments held:

2008 - Professor, food and social policy Dept Sociology, University of Warwick

2001-2008 Reader/Senior lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick

2000-2001 Lecturer, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Warwick

1998-1999 Senior Lecturer, Public Health Nutrition Unit, Dept Epidemiology & Population Health, LSHTM, University of London

1984‑1998 Lecturer, Centre for Human Nutrition, Department of Public Health & Policy, LSHTM

1977‑1984 Research Fellow, Nutrition Policy Unit, Department of Human Nutrition, LSHTM

1976‑1977 Short Term Overseas Personnel (TEAR Fund) Rwanda, Central Africa

1972-1974 Nutrition research assistant, St Lucy's Mission Hospital, Transkei, RSA


Membership of professional bodies:

Nutrition Society (elected Member of Council 2002-6) see:

Association for Nutrition - Registration Committee

UK Public Health Association (Food and Environmental Special Interest Groups)

Social Policy Association

Development Studies Association

Society for Social Medicine

Society for the Study of Human Biology (until 1998)


Membership of national bodies or committees:

Food Ethics Council (invited member, 2003; elected Director/Trustee 2006) see:

Defra Council of Food Policy Advisors (invited member, 2008-2010) see:

National Heart Forum (individual invited member, 2003) see:

Invited expert 2008-9 Food Standards Agency Independent Panel to Review Controls on Infant Formula and Follow-On Formula.

Invited expert (Nutrition Society nominee) 2005-8 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) Programme Development Group for Maternal and Child Nutrition Guidelines

Expert collaborator 2004-7 Health Development Agency Evidence and Practice Development Collaborating Centres for Maternal and Child Nutrition (York/Leeds)

Member 1996-ongoing, Working Group on Food and Poverty/Food Access Network, Sustain, the national alliance for safe food and farming

Member 2001-2007 AgriFood Network, City University and Sustain:

Scientific advisor parliamentary Food Justice Campaign, 2002-5

Member of Scientific Advisory Committee of the British Nutrition Foundation, 1998-2004

1999 awarded Caroline Walker Trust prize for ‘major contribution to improving pubic health through good food’: work on food and low income. 


Recent research project steering committees ·

  • Parents’ & teenagers’ conceptions of diet, weight and health: does class matter? Universities of Hertfordshire and Edinburgh 2006-8
  • teenage pregnancy and dietary intervention, University of Manchester with Tommy’s Charity 2004-8
  • peer- led intervention in infant feeding in minority ethnic groups in London, University College, London, FSA, 2002-6
  • Cooking skills: intervention project, University of Dundee, FSA, Sept 2000-August 2002
  • Food access in deprived communities, East London School action, Global Action Plan, 2000-2001
  • Food, access, shopping and health; responses of the retail sector, joint project of Demos, the Henley Centre and Thames Valley University, 1997-2000


Ad-hoc public consultations and committees:

2010 DEFRA Expert Panel for project on evidence relating to the sustainability of a healthy diet

2008 think-tank on local/Scottish food contribution to Scottish food policy, Scottish Government

2007-8 Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit (Cabinet Office) Food Policy project.

2005-6 member External Review Panel, Scottish Diet Action Plan, for Health Scotland.

2003 Food Standards Agency consultations on national survey of diet in low income households.

2003 delegate to Advantage West Midlands/Localise West Midlands conference on Local Government Local Food.

2002 International Scientific Advisory Board, International Conference on Poverty, Food and Health in Welfare, Institute of Health, Lisbon, Portugal.

2002 delegate DEFRA Regional Consultation on Sustainable Food and Farming, West Midlands.

1999-2000 invited member Working Party 3 (Public Health Nutrition Strategy in the European Union to Implement Food Based Dietary Guidelines) of the Eurodiet Group and Conference: ‘Nutrition & Diet for Healthy Lifestyles in Europe’. see:

1996 - 2000 member of Standing Conference on Low Income and Food (Department of Health and MAFF) member Low Income Project Team (published 1996).

1995-1998, committee International and Public Health, (UK) Nutrition Society.

1995-1999: member of international Scientific Advisory Board, Arbeitsgemeinshaft Ernährungsverhalten e.V., Germany.

1994-6: member of Nutrition Task Force Low Income Project Team.


education and qualification

1998 Registration as Public Health Nutritionist

1996 PhD University of London Nutrition and Poverty: the case of lone parents in the UK.

1994 Accredited Nutritionist (Member Institute Biology)

1976 MSc University of London (Faculty of Medicine) Human Nutrition (LSHTM)

1972 MA Natural Sciences Tripos, University of Cambridge




Elizabeth DOWLER, Moya Kneafsey, Rosie Cox and Lewis Holloway (2010) ‘Doing food differently: reconnecting biological and social relationships through care for food’ in: N. Charles and R. Carter (eds) Nature, Society and Environmental Crisis, Sociological Review Monograph, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp200-220.

Kneafsey, M, Venn, L, Holloway, L, Cox, R, DOWLER, E and Tuomainen, H (2008) Reconnecting Consumers, Producers and Food: Exploring Alternatives, Oxford: Berg.

DOWLER, Elizabeth (2008) ‘Poverty, food and nutrition’. ch 3 in: Strelitz, J. and Lister, R. (eds) Money Matters, London: Save the Children Fund UK.

Cox, R, Kneafsey, M, Venn, L, Holloway, L, Dowler, E and Tuomainen (2008) ‘Constructing Sustainability through Reconnection – the case of ‘alternative’ food networks’, ch 10 in: Robinson, G (ed) Sustainable Rural Environments, Ashgate.

DOWLER, E. and Spencer, N. (eds) (2007) Challenging Health Inequalities: from Acheson to ‘Choosing Health’, Bristol: Policy Press. including: Spencer, N. and DOWLER, E. Introduction ch 1 pp 1-16; DOWLER, E., Caraher, M., and Lincoln, P. Inequalities in food and nutrition: challenging ‘lifestyles’ ch 8, pp127-155; DOWLER, E. and Spencer, N. Challenging Health Inequalities: themes and issues, ch 13 pp 233-248.

Holloway, L. R. Cox, Kneafsey, M., L. Venn, E.Dowler and H. Tuomainen (2007)Food and soil: dirt, cleanliness and connecting consumers to the growing of their food’. In Camplin, B. and Cox, R. (eds) Dirt: mapping geographies of dirt, purity and cleanliness, London I.B. Tauris.

Holloway, L., M, Kneafsey, R. Cox, L. Venn, E.Dowler and H. Tuomainen (2007) ‘Possible food economies: other food networks and the constitution of “alternative” producer-consumer relations’, in Maye, D., Holloway, L. and Kneafsey, M. (eds) Alternative Food Geographies: representation and practice, Oxford: Elsevier, pp. 77-93.

Elizabeth DOWLER, Judith Green, Giancarlo Gasperoni and Martin Bauer, (2006) Assessing public perception: issues and methods. ch 3 in: Dora, C. (ed) Health, Hazards and Public Debate: Lessons for risk communication from the BSE/CJD saga, WHO: Copenhagen, pp 39-60.

Alizon Draper, Judith Green, Elizabeth DOWLER, Giancarlo Gasperoni, Vera Hagenhoff, Maria Rusanen and Timo Rusanen, (2006) Risk and trust: determinants of public perception. ch 4 in: Dora, C. (ed), Health, Hazards and Public Debate: Lessons for risk communication from the BSE/CJD saga, WHO: Geneva, pp 62-83.

MacMillan, T., DOWLER, E. and Archard, D. (2006) ‘Corporate responsibility for children’s diets’, ch 23 in: Gunning, J. and Holm, S. (eds) Ethics, Law and Society, vol II, Aldershot: Ashgate, pp237-243.

Elizabeth DOWLER (2004) Food and poverty: insights from the UK. ch 3 in Maxwell, S. and Slater, R. (eds) Food Policy Old and New, pp33-41. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. also published as special issue of Development Policy Review, 21, 5-6, 569-580.

Elizabeth DOWLER and Geoff Tansey (2003) Food and poverty. in: Mosley, P & DOWLER, E. (eds) Poverty and Social Exclusion in North and South. London: Routledge. pp189-207.

Elizabeth DOWLER and Catherine Jones Finer (eds) (2003) The Welfare of Food: rights and responsibilities in a changing world, Oxford: Blackwells. also published (2002) Food in Social Policy: Social Policy and Administration: special issue, 36, 6.

E. DOWLER (2003) Food and Poverty in Britain: Rights and Responsibilities. in: Elizabeth DOWLER and Catherine Jones Finer (eds) (2003) The Welfare of Food: rights and responsibilities in a changing world, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, pp 140-159. also pub (2002) Social Policy and Administration, 36, 6, 698-717.

Elizabeth DOWLER (2002) Nutrition policy. in: Shetty, P. (ed) Nutrition through the Life Cycle. Leatherhead: Leatherhead Int. Ltd and Royal Society of Chemistry, pp 140-169.

Angela Donkin and Elizabeth DOWLER (2002) Equal Access to Healthy Food for Ethnic Minorities? in:Kershen, A. (ed) Food in the Migrant Experience. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp199-213.

Elizabeth DOWLER, Sheila Turner with Barbara Dobson (2001) Poverty bites: food, health and poor families. London: Child Poverty Action Group.

Elizabeth DOWLER and Suzi Leather (2000) Spare some change for a bite to eat? From Primary Poverty to Social Exclusion: the role of food, in Bradshaw, J and Sainsbury, R. (eds) Experiencing Poverty, Aldershot: Ashgate, pp 200-218.

McGlone, P., Dobson, B., DOWLER, E. & Nelson, M. (1999) Food projects and how they work. York: York Publishing for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Köhler, B. Feichtinger, E., Winkler, G. & E. DOWLER (1999) Public Health and Nutrition: the challenge. Sigma Edition: Berlin. and ch: E. DOWLER Nutrition and inequalities in health in Britain: the new agenda


under review

DOWLER, E. and O’Connor, D. (2011 under review) ‘Implementing a rights based approach to food inequalities: principles and practice.’ Social Science and Medicine special issue on human rights to health.


in print

MacMillan, T. and Dowler, E. (2011) ‘Secure and sustainable? Examining the rhetoric and potential realities of UK food and agriculture policy’ Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

Watt, R. G., Tull, K. I., Hardy, R., Wiggins, M., Kelly, Y., Molloy, B., Dowler, E., Apps, J. and McGlone, P. (2009) Effectiveness of a social support intervention on infant feeding practices: randomised controlled trial. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 63,2, 156-162.

Elizabeth DOWLER (2008) ‘Food and Health Inequalities: the challenge for sustaining just consumption’ Local Environment 13, 8, 759-772. (special issue on inequality and sustainable consumption)

Dowler, Elizabeth (2008) Getting food right: social challenge in the contemporary food system, The Reader (Anglican journal for lay readers).

Dowler, E.A. (2008) Policy initiatives to address low income households' nutritional needs in the UK. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67, 3, 289-300.

Cox, R., Holloway, L., Venn, L., Dowler, E., Ricketts-Hein, J., Kneafsey, M., Tuomainen, H. Common Ground? Motivations for participation in a community supported agriculture scheme. Local Environment 13 (3) 203-218.

Holloway, L., Kneafsey, M., Venn, L., Cox, R., DOWLER, E., & Tuomainen, H (2007) Possible food economies: a methodological framework for exploring food production-consumption relationships, Sociologia Ruralis, 47, no1, 1-19.

Caraher, M. and DOWLER, E. (2007)  ‘Food Projects in London: Lessons for Policy and Practice’, Health Education Journal, 66, no 2, 188-205.

Thorogood, M., Simera, I., DOWLER, E., Summerbell, C., Brunner, B. (2007) A systematic review of population and community dietary interventions to prevent cancer. Nutrition Research Reviews, 20, 1-16.

Wrieden,W et al, including E Dowler (2007) ‘The impact of a community-based food skills intervention on cooking confidence, food preparation methods and dietary choices - an exploratory trial’, Public Health Nutrition, 10 (2) 203-211.

Watts, R. , McGlone, P., Russell, J., Tull, K., DOWLER, E. (2006) Establishing, implementing and maintaining a social support infant feeding programme. Public Health Nutrition, 9 (6), 714-721.

Venn, L., Kneafsey, M., Holloway, L., Cox, R., DOWLER, E., & Tuomainen, H. (2006) Researching European ‘alternative’ food networks: some methodological considerations. Area, 38.3: 248-258.

Holloway, L, Cox, R, Venn, L, Kneafsey, M, DOWLER, E and Tuomainen, H (2006) ‘Managing sustainable farmed landscape through ‘alternative food networks’ a case study from Italy. The Geographical Journal, 172, (3), 219-229.

Holloway, L., Kneafsey, M., Venn, L., Cox, R., DOWLER, E., & Tuomainen, H. (2005) Possible food economies: food production-consumption arrangements and the meaning of ‘alternative’. ‘ESRC/AHRC Cultures of Consumption’ Working Paper Series,, Sociologia Ruralis.

Judith Green, Alizon Draper, Elizabeth DOWLER, Giolo Fele, Vera Hagenhoff, Maria Rusanen, Timo Rusanen (2005) Public understanding of food risks in four European countries: a qualitative study. European Journal of Public Health, 5(5):523-527.

Kneafsey, M., Holloway, L., Venn, L., Cox, R., DOWLER, E. and Tuomainen, H. (2004) Consumers and Producers: Coping with Food Anxieties through Reconnection. ‘ESRC/AHRC Cultures of Consumption Working Paper Series’.

Judith Green, Alizon Draper and Elizabeth DOWLER (2003) Short cuts to safety: risk and 'rules of thumb' in accounts of food choice. Health, Risk and Society, 5,1, 33-52.

Elizabeth DOWLER and Martin Caraher (2003) Local Food Projects - the New Philanthropy? Political Quarterly, 74, no1, 57-65.

Elizabeth DOWLER (2001) Inequalities in diet and physical activity in Europe. Public Health Nutrition 4, (2B), 701-709.

Elizabeth DOWLER (2000) The Role of Community Food Initiatives. in McCormick, J. (ed) Healthy Food Policy: on Scotland’s menu?, Edinburgh: Scottish Council Foundation, pp21-29.

Morris, J., Donkin, A., Wonderling, D., Wilkinson, P. DOWLER, E. (2000) A minimum income for healthy living. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 54, 885-889.

Donkin, A.J.M., DOWLER, E. A., Stevenson, S.J.,Turner S. A.. (2000) Mapping access to food in a deprived area: the development of price and availability indices. Public Health Nutrition, 3, 31-38.

Turner, S., Levinson, R., McLellan-Arnold, B., Stevenson, S., Donkin, A. and DOWLER, E. (2000) Healthy Eating in primary schools: an educational perspective from a socially deprived area, Health Education Journal, 59 (3), pp 196-210.

Donkin, A.J.M., DOWLER, E. A., Stevenson, S. J.,Turner S. A. (1999) Mapping access to food at a local level. British Food Journal, 101, 7, 554-562.

DOWLER, E. (1999) Food and poverty: the present challenge. Benefits: Journal of Social Security Research, Policy and Practice. 24 (Jan/Feb), 3-6.

Evans, Naomi & DOWLER, Elizabeth (1999) Food, health and eating among single homeless and marginalized people in London. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 12, 179-199.

Elizabeth DOWLER (1999) Families and food poverty. ch in: Fit for School: how breakfast clubs meet health, education and childcare needs. London: New Policy Institute, pp 29-35.

DOWLER, E. (1998) Food as a utility: guaranteeing food security for all. Consumer Policy Review, 5, 162-168.

DOWLER, E. (1997) Budgeting for food on a low income: the case of lone parents. Food Policy 22, 5, 405-417.

DOWLER, E. and Dobson, B. (1997) Nutrition and poverty in Europe: an overview. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 56,1A, 51-62.



Moya Kneafsey, Hannah Lambie, Elizabeth DOWLER. Community Toolkit for mapping local food. Report to Council for the Protection of Rural England. February 2010.

Laura Davis, Elizabeth DOWLER, Kevin Morgan, Tim Lang, David Hunter. Mid-Term Evaluation of Food and Wellbeing Wales. Report to Food Standards Agency Wales. September 2007.

Tim Lang, Elizabeth DOWLER, David Hunter. Review of the Scottish Diet Action Plan 1996-2005. Report to NHS Health Scotland. October 2006.

Richard Watt, Pauline McGlone, Kerina Tull, Yvonne Kelly, Rebecca Hardy, Meg Wiggins, Joanna Apps, Brenda Molloy and Elizabeth DOWLER. Promoting recommended infant feeding practices in a low-income sample - randomised controlled trial of a peer support intervention (N09016). Report to the Food Standards Agency. 2006.

Iveta Simera, Margaret Thorogood, Elizabeth DOWLER, Carolyn Summerbell, Eric Brunner. Population and community programmes for dietary prevention of cancer: systematic review of effectiveness. Report to the World Cancer Research Fund. January 2005.

Elizabeth DOWLER, Simon Michaels, Naomi Diamond, Martin Caraher, Emma Delon, Charles Cousins The value and potential of local food initiatives in the West Midlands region. Report to Advantage West Midlands. July 2004.

Elizabeth DOWLER, Maria Stuttaford, Martin Caraher. Evaluation of the Coventry Food Poverty Project. Final Report to Coventry City Council. November 2003.

Michael Nelson, Katy Dick, Bridget Holmes, Roger Thomas and Elizabeth DOWLER Low Income Diet Methods Study Final Project Report to the Food Standards Agency. March 2003.