Julie Lovegrove

Speech Title: Recent activities of the UK Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN)

Julie Lovegrove is Professor of Human Nutrition, Director of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, and Deputy Director of the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research at the University of Reading.  Professor Lovegrove graduated from the University of Surrey with a BSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, and a PhD in Nutritional Metabolism, before becoming a founding member of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading. She was appointed as Professor of Human Nutrition in 2010.  She is a Registered Nutritionist with over 35 years of research experience in studying the role of nutrition on cardiovascular diseases, with focus on the metabolic impact of dietary fats, dairy, plant phytochemicals, nutrient-gene interactions and personalised nutrition. Her work has made a major contribution in establishing the relevance of dietary fat quality to the development and prevention of cardiometabolic diseases.  

Professor Lovegrove is President of the Nutrition Society, for UK and Ireland and serves on a number of external committees. She is Deputy Chair of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN), Chair of Subgroup on the SACN Framework and Methods for Evidence Evaluation and previously on SACN’s ‘Saturated fats and Health’ and ‘Carbohydrates and Health’ working groups. She is a member of the Medical Research Council’s Populations and Systems Medical Board and Chairs the International Life Science Institute Europe (ILSI) Committee on ‘Saturated Fats and Cardiovascular Health’, She was Vice President for the Association for Nutrition (AfN) Council (2016-2019), and Chair of the AfN Accreditation Committee (2011-2019). She was awarded Fellow of the AfN in 2014.


The UK Scientific Advisory Committee for Nutrition (SACN) advises the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and other UK government organisations on nutrition and related health matters. SACN’s terms of reference include: i) nutrient content of individual foods, and on diet as a whole, and the nutritional status of people; ii) nutritional status of people in the UK and how it may be monitored; iii) nutritional issues which affect wider public health policy issues; iv) nutrition of vulnerable groups and health inequality issues; and v) research requirements for these areas. SACN is supported by a secretariat provided by OHID and involved solely with risk assessment.

SACN was established in 2000, superseding the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA). Since its foundation, SACN has published 16 full reports, 13 position statements and 2 rapid reviews, which have led to the formation of numerous Government nutritional policies. These include the redefinition and new dietary reference values for dietary fibre (30g/day) and free sugar (>5% total energy/day) in 2015; establishing population dietary reference values for vitamin D (10g/day) in 2016, and saturated fat (less than 10% total energy/day) with guidance for replacement with unsaturated fats, in 2019. Unique data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) is frequently used to inform SACN of the dietary intake and nutritional status of a representative UK population and to model new dietary recommendations. Recently, the Subgroup on the SACN Framework and Methods for Evidence Evaluation was established to guide all activities of SACN and its individual working groups. The process and standardisation of evidence evaluation, challenges faced and the complexities of defining specific dietary recommendations will be discussed and contextualised with recent examples.