Human Nutrition Research Centre

Staff Profile

Dr Frances Hillier-Brown

Lecturer Public Health Nutrition


My core research interests centre on the provision of equitable population-wide health promotion, with a particular focus on healthy eating and physical activity behaviours for the prevention of chronic disease. My research uses mixed methods approaches and includes the synthesis of best-available evidence; collaboration with public and practice stakeholders for research and intervention development; evaluation of real-world initiatives, services and programmes, using appropriate methods; translation of research findings into policy practice; and understanding wider determinants of health. I have a particular interest in intervention-generated inequality and understanding where exclusion may occur within intervention and research processes. I have collaborated on a number of multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional (national and international) health research projects. My work has been used to shape local policy and national guidance on food environments and child health.

I am a member of Fuse, The Centre of Translational Research in Public Health, and The Association for the Study of Obesity, and was a founder member of the Equal North Research and Practice Network that has now been expanded to the Equal England: Health Inequalities Knowledge Exchange NetworkI lead the Translation into Innovative Policies, Products and Services workstream within the Centre for Healthier Lives.


Current projects:

·       Child health system evaluation: Integrated Care Systems and Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships – funded by NIHR School for Public Health Research

·   Community Social Supermarkets: understanding how they shape access and availability to healthier foods in food insecure communities- funded by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North East and North Cumbria

·    A mixed-methods evaluation of cross-regional workplace health initiatives including a cluster randomised controlled trial (cRCT) of a behaviour change intervention – funded by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration (National Priorities)

Completed projects:

·    Health Inequalities in European Welfare States (HiNews) – funded by New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe (NORFACE/ESRC)

·    Transforming the ‘foodscape’: development and feasibility testing of interventions to promote healthier take-away, pub and restaurant menus – funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research

·       Northern Health Equity Research Network: Healthier lives and fairer lives in the North – funded by Public Health England

·    Systematic literature review: How effective are public health interventions at reducing socio-economic inequalities in obesity amongst children and adults? – funded by NIHR Public Health Research programme

·       Community Challenge Project - Intervention aimed at improving diet and physical activity levels in low-income populations – funded by the Food Standards Agency

·    Exploratory Workshop on Exploring new directions for the assessment of dietary intake and physical activity levels – funded by the European Science Foundation

·   Systematic literature review of the effects of nutrition, diet and dietary change on learning, education and performance in UK schoolchildren – funded by the Food Standards Agency

·      Systematic literature review of diet, nutrition and physical activity determinants of weight gain – funded by the World Cancer Research Fund


I teach in the areas of public health nutrition and epidemiology, health inequalities and dietary assessment. I supervise a number of undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation projects.

Current PhD supervision:

  • Alice Roberts (Human Nutrition Research Centre and Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University) ‘Exploring opportunities to improve the food and drink environment in UK secondary schools’
  • Sophie Phillips (Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University) ‘Measuring movement-related behaviours in pre-school children from socio-economically deprived communities at a population level’

Completed PhD supervision:

  • Sarah Smith (Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University) 'The workplace foodscape: designing interventions and creating behaviour change'