Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN)

SACN advises on nutrition and related health matters. It advises Public Health England (PHE) and other UK government organisations.



We are recruiting members for SMCN. Further details are available in the recruitment section.




A ‘Supplement on Submariner and Military Specialist Data’ has been published for SACN’s ‘Position Statement on Military Dietary Reference Values for Energy.’




Following the SACN meeting on 11 June 2020, two post-meeting papers have been published:

Terms of Reference

SACN advises on:

  • nutrient content of individual foods, and on diet as a whole including the definition of a balanced diet, and the nutritional status of people
  • nutritional status of people in the UK and how it may be monitored
  • nutritional issues which affect wider public health policy issues including conditions where nutritional status is one of a number of risk factors (eg cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and/or obesity)
  • nutrition of vulnerable groups (eg infants and the elderly) and health inequality issues
  • research requirements for the above

SACN is supported in its work by a secretariat provided by PHE. The secretariat has scientific expertise that enables them to provide members with comprehensive background information and briefing papers to inform the decision making processes of the Committee.

Code of Practice

The SACN Code of Practice (March 2020) (PDF, 829KB, 28 pages) sets out how the committee puts into practice the guidelines governing scientific advisory committees, such as the Government Office for Science Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees.

An earlier version of the SACN Code of Practice can be viewed on the SACN page in the National Archives.

Framework for the Evaluation of Evidence

SACN follow a set Framework for the Evaluation of Evidence (March 2020) (PDF, 494KB, 21 pages), that relates food and nutrients to health, to ensure a consistent approach is taken with all reviews.

An earlier version of the Framework can be viewed on the SACN page in the National Archives.

Membership

SACN members are appointed as independent scientific experts on the basis of their specific skills and knowledge. There are also consumer and lay members.

Members are required to conduct themselves in accordance with the Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees.

The committee is chaired by Professor Ian Young, Professor of Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast.

The members are:

  • Ms Gill Fine, Public Health Nutritionist
  • Dr Darren Greenwood, Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics, University of Leeds
  • Professor Paul Haggarty, Deputy Director, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen
  • Professor Susan Jebb, Professor of Diet And Population Health, University of Oxford
  • Professor Mairead Kiely, Head of School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork, Ireland
  • Professor Susan Lanham-New, Head of the Nutritional Sciences Department, University of Surrey
  • Professor Julie Lovegrove, Professor of Human Nutrition, Director of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition and Deputy Director of the Institute for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, University of Reading
  • Dr David Mela (Industry member), retired
  • Professor Ken Ong, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge
  • Mrs Gemma Paramor (Lay member), Finance professional in accounting and investment management
  • Professor Lucilla Poston, Tommy’s Professor of Maternal and Fetal Health,Head of School of Life Course Sciences, King’s College London
  • Professor Hilary Powers, Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, Department of Oncology and Metabolism, University of Sheffield
  • Professor Sian Robinson, Professor of Lifecourse and Lifestyle, Newcastle University
  • Dr Stella Walsh (Lay member), retired academic
  • Professor Charlotte Wright, Professor of Community Child Health, University of Glasgow

Further information on committee members is included in the SACN Annual Report 2019.

Register of Interests

The SACN Register of Interests (PDF, 1.37MB, 130 pages) contains details of all declarations of interest by members of SACN, its subgroup and working groups. This information is updated as and when declarations are made.

SACN meetings

2020 meetings scheduled for 10 March, 11 June and 20 November.
2021 meetings scheduled for 10 March, 10 June and 10 November.

The following meeting documents are now available:

View the SACN main meeting minutes and papers

Minutes of meetings before 2014 can be viewed on the SACN page on the National Archives


Subgroup on Maternal and Child Nutrition (SMCN)

Terms of reference

To advise, through SACN, on such aspects of child and maternal diet and nutrition, as are referred to it by the UK health departments and SACN.

Membership

SMCN is chaired by Professor Ken Ong, SACN.

The members are:

  • Professor Marion Hetherington, Thomas Ward Endowed Chair in Psychology, University of Leeds
  • Professor Alan A Jackson, Professor of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton (co-opted external expert)
  • Professor Mairead Kiely, SACN
  • Professor Lucilla Poston, SACN
  • Professor Ann Prentice, Honorary Professor of Global Nutrition and Health, MRC Nutrition and Bone Health Research Group, Cambridge (formerly Director of MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge)
  • Professor Sian Robinson, SACN
  • Dr Stella Walsh, SACN
  • Professor Charlotte Wright, SACN

Further information on subgroup members is included in the SACN Annual Report 2019.

Meetings

2020 meetings scheduled for 5 February, 15 May and 2 October.
Meetings are held in closed session.

The following meeting documents are now available:

View the SMCN minutes and papers

Minutes of meetings before 2014 can be viewed on the SMCN page on the National Archives


Joint Working Group on lower carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes

Terms of reference

  • To review the evidence on lower carbohydrate diets (alongside higher fat and/or higher protein) compared to current government advice for adults with type 2 diabetes1. This will include consideration of the impact of lower carbohydrate diets compared with higher carbohydrate diets on clinical outcomes and markers of type 2 diabetes and any potential adverse effects.
  • Make recommendations based on the review of the evidence.

1 Current government advice is that approximately 50% of dietary energy should be obtained from carbohydrates

Membership

Since SACN does not usually make recommendations relating to clinical conditions, a joint working group was established. The joint working group comprises members of SACN together with members nominated by Diabetes UK, the British Dietetic Association, Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of General Practitioners. The joint working group is observed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and NHS England and NHS Improvement.

The working group is co-chaired by Professor Ian Young (SACN) and Mr Douglas Twenefour (Diabetes UK).

The members are:

  • Professor Professor Peter Aggett (SACN member until July 2019), Honorary Professor, School of Medicine and Health, Lancaster University, and Emeritus Professor and Past Head of Lancashire School of Postgraduate Medicine and Health, University of Central Lancashire
  • Dr Pamela Dyson, Research dietitian, Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Oxford
  • Professor Nita Forouhi, Programme Leader and Consultant Public Health Physician, Professor of Population Health and Nutrition, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine
  • Dr Darren Greenwood, SACN
  • Dr Rachel Pryke, General practitioner, Redditch, Worcestershire
  • Professor Roy Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Metabolism, Newcastle University
  • Ms Ruth Waxman (Lay member)

Meetings

2020 meetings scheduled for 27 April, 30 June and 29 September.
Meetings are held in closed session.

The following meeting documents are now available:

View all minutes of the joint working group on lower carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes.

Draft report

The consultation on the draft report ‘Lower carbohydrate diets for adults with type 2 diabetes’ closed on 30 April 2020. You can view the comments received to the consultation. SACN’s response to the received comments will be published at the same time as the final report.


Older Adults Working Group

Terms of reference

  • To review current evidence on the role of nutrition in older adults and its impact on healthy ageing 1,2,3 . This will include consideration of:

    i. key nutritional issues relevant to age-related health, including age-related changes in cognition, physical and metabolic function
    ii. current dietary intake and patterns compared to current UK government advice
    iii. evidence according to chronological age: 65-74 years, 75 years and above

  • To draw conclusions on the state of the evidence in relation to existing advice and make recommendations where possible.

1 Excludes older adults who are living in residential care or nursing homes
2 New evidence will not be sought where SACN have already published relevant conclusions and/or recommendations for these age groups
3 For more information, see inclusion and exclusion criteria

Membership

The working group is chaired by Ms Gill Fine, SACN.

The members are:

  • Professor Harry McArdle (SACN member until July 2019), Professor Emeritus of Biomedical Sciences, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen, Honorary Professor of Biological Sciences, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Sian Robinson, SACN
  • Professor Angus Walls (co-opted SACN member until July 2019; co-opted external expert since August 2019), Professor of Restorative Dentistry and Director of the Edinburgh Dental Institute
  • Dr Stella Walsh, SACN

Call for evidence

A call for evidence on the role of nutrition in older adults and its impact on healthy ageing was published on 9 January. Submissions were accepted until 5 February 2019.

Meetings

2020 meetings scheduled for 16 January and 1 May.
Meetings are held in closed session.

The following meeting documents are now available:

View all Older Adults Working Group minutes.


Nutrition and maternal health working group

Terms of reference

To be confirmed.

Membership

The working group is chaired by Professor Ann Prentice, Honorary Professor of Global Nutrition and Health, MRC Nutrition and Bone Health Research Group, Cambridge (formerly Director of MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge).

The members are:

  • Professor Annie Anderson (co-opted external expert), Professor of Public Health Nutrition, University of Dundee
  • Professor Basma Ellahi (co-opted external expert), Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Chester
  • Dr Darren Greenwood, SACN
  • Professor Paul Haggarty, SACN
  • Professor Mairead Kiely, SACN
  • Professor Susan Lanham-New, SACN
  • Professor Lucilla Poston, SACN
  • Professor Sian Robinson, SACN
  • Dr Stella Walsh, SACN

Draft scope

The draft scope was issued for comments from interested parties from 27 June to 24 July 2019. You can view SACN’s responses to the received comments in the annex of the minutes of the SACN main committee meeting on 10 March 2020.

Meetings

2019 meeting scheduled for 12 December.
2020 meetings scheduled for 29 June and 10 December.
Meetings are held in closed session.


Archived Groups

Saturated Fats Working Group

The Saturated Fats Working Group has been disbanded following the completion of its work and publication of the SACN report on ‘Saturated fats and health’. In addition to the report, you can view the results of the public consultation, details of the working group (held by National Archives), and the working group’s minutes and papers.

Joint SACN-COT Potassium-based Sodium Replacers Working Group

The Joint SACN-COT Potassium-based Sodium Replacers Working Group has been disbanded following the completion of its work and publication of the SACN-COT statements on potassium-based sodium replacers. In addition to the statements, you can view details of the joint working group (held by National Archives) and the working group’s minutes and papers (held by COT).

Joint SACN-COT Working Group on the timing of introduction of allergenic foods into the infant diet

The Joint SACN-COT Working Group on the timing of introduction of allergenic foods into the infant diet has been disbanded following the completion of its work and publication of the SACN-COT statement on the introduction of peanut and hen’s egg into the infant diet. In addition to the statement, you can view details of the joint working group (held by National Archives) and the working group’s minutes and papers (held by COT).

Military Energy DRVs Working Group

The Military Energy DRVs Working Group has been disbanded following the completion of its work and publication of the SACN Statement on Military Dietary Reference Values for Energy. In addition to the statement, you can view the details of the Military Energy DRVs Working Group, which are held in the National Archives and the Military Energy DRVs Working Group minutes and papers.

Vitamin D Working Group

The Vitamin D Working Group has been disbanded following the completion of its work and publication of the SACN Vitamin D and Health report. In addition to the report, you can view the SACN press release on the vitamin D report (PDF, 195KB, 2 pages), the results of the public consultation and details of the Vitamin D Working Group, which are held in the National Archives.

View the Vitamin D Working Group minutes and papers from 2014 until the completion of its work.

View the Vitamin D Working Group minutes and papers before 2014 on the National Archives website.

Carbohydrates Working Group

The Carbohydrates Working Group has been disbanded following the completion of its work and publication of the SACN Carbohydrates and Health report. In addition to the report, you can view the SACN press release (PDF, 350KB, 3 pages), the results of the public consultation and details of the Carbohydrates Working Group, which are held in the National Archives.

View the Carbohydrates Working Group minutes and papers from 2014 until the completion of its work.

View the Carbohydrate Working Group minutes and papers before 2014 on the National Archives website.


Recruitment of SMCN members

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) provides independent advice on nutrition and related health issues to the 4 UK health departments and other government departments and agencies. SACN is currently supported by a Public Health England (PHE) secretariat (for further details please see note below).

PHE is looking to appoint at least 4 members to the SACN subgroup on maternal and child nutrition (SMCN).

SMCN meets three times per year and is made up of specialists from a range of relevant disciplines.

We are looking for

  • paediatric clinicians with expertise in nutrition (for example, gastroenterology, allergy and/or growth and development)
  • individuals with expertise in at least one of the following areas:
    • Micronutrients
    • Oral health

Remuneration will be £200 per meeting with a time commitment of up to 10 days per year. Appointments are likely to be up to a maximum of 3 years in the first instance and will be determined by PHE’s Senior Responsible Officer for SACN.

Please refer to the information pack (ZIP, 584KB) for further information on applying.

The closing date for applications is 11.59pm on 1 November 2020.
Public Health England values and promotes diversity and encourages applications from all sections of the community.

Note: On 18 August 2020, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced plans to establish the National Institute for Health Protection and consult on the best future options for strengthening health improvement and other public health functions in the wider system. Public Health England and many of its employees will be in scope for transition to new organisations in Spring 2021. Any new or current employees working for Public Health England during this time, will receive appropriate communications and consultation prior to any formal transfer taking place. Employees who compulsorily transfer to successor bodies will remain on their existing contractual terms and conditions and this applies both to current employees and those recruited during the transition. The recruitment, growth & development of our workforce is vital for the continuing success of PHE and the future National Institute for Health Protection.


News

SACN is recruiting

SACN is recruiting members for SMCN. Further details are available in the recruitment section.

Publication of supplement to the position statement on military dietary reference values for energy

A ‘Supplement on Submariner and Military Specialist Data’ has been published for SACN’s ‘Position Statement on Military Dietary Reference Values for Energy.’

Post-meeting papers published

Following the SACN meeting on 11 June 2020, two post-meeting papers have been published:

SACN Annual Report 2019 published

The SACN Annual Report for the calendar year 2019 has now been published.

COMA reports available online

Reports published by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA) are now available online. COMA advised UK government on matters relating to food and nutrition, prior to the establishment of SACN in 2000.


Reports

See all SACN reports

Older reports can be viewed on the SACN page on the National Archives

Position Statements

See all SACN position statements

Older position statements can be viewed on the SACN page on the National Archives

Annual Reports

See the latest SACN annual report

Older annual reports can be viewed on the SACN annual reports page on the National Archives

COMA Reports

See reports published by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA). COMA advised UK government on matters relating to food and nutrition, prior to the establishment of SACN in 2000.


Contact details

SACN Secretariat
Public Health England
Wellington House (floor 7S)
133 to 155 Waterloo Road
London
SE1 8UG

SACN@phe.gov.uk


Press office: 020 7654 8400
Out of hours: 020 8200 4400
phe-pressoffice@phe.gov.uk