Programme Leader and MRC Investigator
Current work and interests
Nita Forouhi is a physician scientist and Programme Leader of the Nutritional Epidemiology programme of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.
Nita Forouhi’s research is focused on the link between diet, nutrition and the risk of diabetes, obesity and related disorders. Her major research interests include:
- Nutritional epidemiology, identifying dietary factors that can elevate or mitigate the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Developing and using improved methods to assess diet, including the use of objectively measured nutritional biomarkers and metabolomics approaches
- Promoting methodological knowledge in dietary assessment through developing web-based projects
- To contribute to an understanding of the drivers, barriers and facilitators of healthy dietary choices
- Understanding between-population differences in cardio-metabolic health, including variation by ethnicity
- Global nutrition and health
Nita Forouhi leads the Nutritional Epidemiology programme, and she is Professor of Population Health and Nutrition. She is also the Theme Co-Lead for the Nutrition, Obesity, Metabolism and Endocrinology Theme of the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. She is an NIHR Senior Investigator. She is a Principal Investigator on the EU-FP6 funded EPIC-InterAct Study, the Fenland Study, the SABRE Study, and the EU-FP7 funded InterConnect Project and EPIC-CVD Study. She is also an Honorary Consultant Public Health Physician with Public Health England.
Nita is the organiser of the WHO/IDF Cambridge Seminar for increasing understanding of the epidemiological and public health aspects of diabetes, she leads the Unit’s postdoctoral forum, is module lead on the University of Cambridge MPhil in Epidemiology and MPhil in Public Health, and is an educational supervisor for the Eastern Deanery Public Health training programme.
Nita is committed to promoting a positive work culture and the equality agenda through her her role as the Director of Organisational Affairs at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine. She chairs the Clinical School’s Athena Swan Governance Group, and as the Athena Swan and equality and diversity lead for the MRC Epidemiology Unit. She is also a member of the University of Cambridge race equality charter team.
Nita delivered the Diabetes UK Rank Nutrition Lecture in 2017, the nutritional epidemiology research programme was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Best Impact Award in 2016, and she has frequently engaged with the media to promote knowledge in the area of diet and health. Her expert commentary has been quoted by a number of national and international news outlets, including the BBC News Online, Daily Mail, Guardian, and CNN, she has been interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme and BBC One’s The One Show, and she has appeared on BBC Two’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor and BBC One’s The Truth about…fat. In 2017 she was interviewed by the BMJ for BMJ Confidential, and in 2019 by the MRC for their Career Inspirations podcast.
Nita was a series advisor for the BMJ’s Food for Thought series, as well as an author of three papers in the series, and gave a talk as part of the launch event at the Swiss Re Institute.
Background and experience
Nita trained in Medicine at the University of Newcastle, having obtained a First Class Honours degree in Immunology in an intercalated BMedSci. She trained in General Medicine and Diabetes & Endocrinology in Edinburgh, obtaining the MRCP. During a Wellcome Training Fellowship at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, she was awarded a Masters and PhD. She specialised in Public Health Medicine in London and Cambridge.
She has served as a member of the IDF (International Diabetes Federation) Diabetes Atlas Committee, as Chair of the multidisciplinary Managed Care Network for Diabetes for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, as member of the Diabetes UK Research Committee, adviser to the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, and as Associate Editor for Diabetic Medicine. She has also served as a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition Joint Working Group on lower carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes.
- Forouhi NG, Imamura F, Sharp SJ, Koulman A, Schulze MB, Zheng J, Ye Z, et al. Association of Plasma Phospholipid n-3 and n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids with Type 2 Diabetes: The EPIC-InterAct Case-Cohort Study. PLoS Med. 2016; 13(7):e1002094.
- Li SX, Imamura F, Ye Z, Schulze MB, Zheng J, Ardanaz E, Arriola L, Boeing H, Dow C, Fagherazzi G, Franks PW, Agudo A, Grioni S, Kaaks R, Katzke VA, Key TJ, Khaw KT, Mancini FR, Navarro C, Nilsson PM, Onland-Moret NC, Overvad K, Palli D, Panico S, Quirós JR, Rolandsson O, Sacerdote C, Sánchez MJ, Slimani N, Sluijs I, Spijkerman AM, Tjonneland A, Tumino R, Sharp SJ, Riboli E, Langenberg C, Scott RA, Forouhi* NG, Wareham* NJ. Interaction between genes and macronutrient intake on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes: systematic review and findings from European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC)-InterAct. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017;106(1):263-275. (*equal contribution)
- Conklin AI, Monsivais P, Khaw KT, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Dietary Diversity, Diet Cost, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in the United Kingdom: A Prospective Cohort Study. PLoS Med. 2016; 13(7):e1002085.
- Imamura F, O’Connor L, Ye Z, Mursu J, Hayashino Y, Bhupathiraju SN, Forouhi NG. Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, artificially sweetened beverages, and fruit juice and incidence of type 2 diabetes: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimation of population attributable fraction. BMJ. 2015;351:h3576.
- Forouhi NG, Koulman A, Sharp SJ, Imamura F, Kröger J, Schulze MB, Crowe FL, et al. Differences in the prospective association between individual plasma phospholipid saturated fatty acids and incident type 2 diabetes: the EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2014;2(10):810-8.
- O’Connor L, Imamura F, Brage S, Griffin SJ, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Intakes and sources of dietary sugars and their association with metabolic and inflammatory markers. Clin Nutr. 2017 Jun 17. pii: S0261-5614(17)30210-8.
- Barrett P, Imamura F, Brage S, Griffin SJ, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Sociodemographic, lifestyle and behavioural factors associated with consumption of sweetened beverages among adults in Cambridgeshire, UK: the Fenland Study. Public Health Nutr. 2017 Aug 9:1-12 (In press).
- Tong TY, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT, Imamura F, Forouhi NG. Prospective association of the Mediterranean diet with cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality and its population impact in a non-Mediterranean population: the EPIC-Norfolk study. BMC Med. 2016;14(1):135.
- Eriksen A, Tillin T, O’Connor L, Brage S, Hughes A, Mayet J, McKeigue P, Whincup P, Chaturvedi N, Forouhi NG. The impact of health behaviours on incident cardiovascular disease in Europeans and South Asians–a prospective analysis in the UK SABRE study. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 2;10(3):e0117364.
- Patel PS, Cooper AJ, O’Connell TC, …et al…, Luben RN, Brage S, Khaw KT, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Serum carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes as potential biomarkers of dietary intake and their relation with incident type 2 diabetes: the EPIC-Norfolk study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100(2):708-18.
- Ye Z, Sharp SJ, Burgess S, Scott RA, Imamura F; InterAct Consortium, Langenberg C, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Association between circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D and incident type 2 diabetes: a mendelian randomisation study. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2015;3(1):35-42.
- O’Connor L, Imamura F, Lentjes MA, Khaw KT, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Prospective associations and population impact of sweet beverage intake and type 2 diabetes, and effects of substitutions with alternative beverages. Diabetologia. 2015;58(7):1474-83.
- O’Connor LM, Lentjes MA, Luben RN, Khaw KT, Wareham NJ, Forouhi NG. Dietary dairy product intake and incident type 2 diabetes: a prospective study using dietary data from a 7-day food diary. Diabetologia. 2014;57(5):909-17.
- Burgoine T, Forouhi NG, Griffin SJ, Wareham NJ, Monsivais P. Associations between exposure to takeaway food outlets, takeaway food consumption, and body weight in Cambridgeshire, UK: population based, cross sectional study. BMJ. 2014;348:g1464.
- Zamora-Ros R*, Forouhi NG*, Sharp SJ, González CA, Buijsse B, Guevara M, van der Schouw YT et al. The association between dietary flavonoid and lignan intakes and incident type 2 diabetes in European populations: the EPIC-InterAct study. Diabetes Care. 2013 Dec;36(12):3961-70. (*equal contribution)
- Harding AH, Wareham NJ, Bingham SA, Khaw K, Luben R, Welch A, Forouhi NG. Plasma vitamin C level, fruit and vegetable consumption, and the risk of new-onset type 2 diabetes mellitus: the European prospective investigation of cancer–Norfolk prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(14):1493-9.