The Expert Panel

Professor Alison Lennox

Professor of Public Health Nutrition, University of Surrey

Professor Lennox took her post at the University of Surrey in 2013. She is widely published and her current research focusses on national nutrition surveys, their methods and findings on food consumption and nutrient intakes in the UK and around the world, and trends in intake over time. Additionally, she continues to have interests in her earlier research area of gastrointestinal function, particularly the roles of dietary fibre and starch. Professor Lennox has considerable experience in issues relating nutrition to food policy, dietary surveys and methodologies, and regulatory affairs. 

In 2004 Professor Lennox took up the post of Head of Population Nutrition Research at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Nutrition Research (HNR) in Cambridge. In this role, she led HNR’s responsibility for the National Diet and Nutrition Survey and the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children. 

Professor Christine Pascal OBE

Director of Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC)

Professor Christine Pascal, OBE is Director of Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), an independent charitable research centre based at the St Thomas Children's Centre in Birmingham. CREC specialises in early childhood research which has relevant and meaningful outcomes for practice and policy.

Previously, Professor Pascal was President of the British Association for Early Childhood Education from 1994 to 1997, and is now Vice President. She has worked extensively at government level to support the development of early years policy, sitting on several national committees, has served as a ministerial advisor, and since 2000 has been an Early Years Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Select Committee on Education. She has written widely on early childhood development and the quality of early education services, and has served as an Expert Advisor to Dame Tickell’s review of the Early Years Foundation Stage in England.

Along with Professor Tony Bertram, Professor Pascal is also a Director of Amber Publications & Training, a social enterprise that aims to design, develop and implement professional development courses and publications for early childhood policy makers, professionals and practitioners within the UK and beyond.

Professor Pinki Sahota

Professor of Nutrition and Childhood Obesity, Leeds Beckett University

Professor Sahota’s expertise lies in childhood nutrition and childhood obesity. Her key interests are in the development, implementation and evaluation of projects to improve public health and reduce health inequalities in a wide variety of settings. Since moving into academia from professional practice, Professor Sahota has established a strong record and profile in tackling nutrition and childhood obesity, building on her NHS professional background as a Registered Public Health Nutritionist (RPHn) and Registered Dietitian (RD) with nearly 20 years of experience as a community dietitian.

Professor Sahota is a Core Member of the Institute for Health and Wellbeing, a member of the Childhood Obesity Research Group of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Chair of The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) and co-chair of the Regional ASO group. 

Professor Marion Hetherington

Professor of Biopsychology, University of Leeds

Professor Hetherington is interested in understanding how children express appetite in early life and how they acquire preferences for different foods. She has conducted research on the early weaning period and in later childhood, and is widely published.

Professor Hetherington is known for her work on short term influences on food intake, and has investigated gene-environment interactions in the development of obesity in children. Her current research focuses on early determinants of overeating in young children and in the ways caregivers can facilitate short term energy regulation through responsive feeding practices.

Professor Hetherington has been Professor in Biopsychology at University of Leeds since 2008 and has established an infant lab within the Human Appetite Research Unit, Institute of Psychological Sciences. 

Clare Geldard

Director of Operations, I CAN 

Clare Geldard is Director of Operations for I CAN, a children’s communication charity that helps children develop the speech, language and communication skills they need to thrive in a 21st century world. Clare is responsible for the charity’s social enterprise operation, delivering I CAN’s effective, practical, evidence-based solutions for children aged 0 to 19 years of age, on a UK-wide basis. Additionally, Clare is responsible for the development of new Early Years and Primary programmes and resources and the Early Language Development Programme which has reached 12,000 practitioners to date.

Following her qualification as a speech and language therapist in 1987, Clare gained extensive experience as both a practitioner and a manager delivering services, and specialised in preschool and school aged children. She worked for North Staffordshire Health Authority and Chorley and South Ribble NHS Trust until 1999 where she came to be Paediatric Manager and Acting Speech and Language Therapy Manager.

Dr Kirsten Watters FFPH

Consultant in Public Health, Southwark Council

Dr Kirsten Watters, FFPH is a Consultant in Public Health at Southwark Council. She focuses on maternity, children and health protection and is the public health lead for sexual health and HIV across Southwark and Lambeth.

Dr Watters completed a Master of Science (MSc) in Public Health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London. Following this she worked as a Public Health Specialist Registrar for the Greater London Authority before taking up her Consultant position with Southwark Council.