Ailsa Welch


  • 2.02 Medical School

Personal profile


Ailsa Welch is a Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology researching the effects of nutrition on aging, based at The University of East Anglia Medical School. Ailsa’s research focuses on understanding the protective factors in diet for musculoskeletal health (sarcopenia, loss of skeletal muscle mass and function with age), osteoporosis and fracture risk. She also researches into CVD and cancer, in developing dietary assessment methodologies, quantifying measurement error, and in evaluating public health improvement interventions. Ailsa’s research aims to understand the effects of micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) and diet quality (dietary patterns, fatty acids, protein & acid-base load) on musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health. Micronutrient malnutrition also co-exists alongside obesity and chronic disease.

Other more recent projects are investigating better methods for identifying malnutrition.  

Ailsa has 212 peer-reviewed publications, an H Index of 77 (Scopus) and 21,000 citations. She is also a top 1% world researcher (Thompson Reuters, 2014).

Ailsa chaired the Nutrition & Lifestyle Forum of the National Osteoporosis Society and was a member of their Scientific Advisory Committee (2013-2019). She is also the scientific theme lead for Nutrition in the Treatment, Management and Prevention of Disease for the UK Nutrition Society. Ailsa chairs the initiative for ‘Optimising Nutrition and Hydration Practice in Care Homes’ and is a member of the Malnutrition Task Force.

Ailsa was external examiner for the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2014-2019). She previously led the Metabolic and Endocrine group of the Norfolk and Suffolk Comprehensive Local Research Network, and was a member of the national group (2008 to 2015).

Prior to joining UEA, in 2007, Ailsa was based at the University of Cambridge where she developed dietary assessment methodologies for the European Prospective Investigations into Cancer and Nutrition Study. She also worked at the Royal Society of Chemistry compiling the UK food composition databases and was at King’s College London, based in Somalia and Nigeria. Ailsa is a State Registered Dietitian.

Research Interests

Nutrition and musculoskeletal health (osteoporosis, fractures, sarcopenia & age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function) and frailty

  • Diet and aging
  • Dietary methodology
  • Dietary fat and protein composition, micronutrients, dietary patterns and acid-base load
  • Malnutrition
  • Public health nutrition

DPHIL, University of Ulster (2005)

BSc Hons in Nutrition, 2:1 with eligibility for state registration in dietetics, merit  (1977)

Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice 2009

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2009-present)

State Registered Dietitian (SRD) No. DT 2305 (1977-present)

Registered Public Health Nutritionist  and member, The Association of Nutrition (1999-2018)

British Nutrition Society, member (elected 1988-present). Scientific theme lead for Public Health Nutrition (2011-2021) and theme lead for Nutrition in the Treatment, Management & Prevention of Disease (2021-present). Member of the Council (2009-2012)

British Dietetic Association, member (number 1276) (1979-present)

The Association for the Study of Obesity, member (1995-2013)

The American Society for Nutrition, member (elected 2014-present)

The Society on Sarcopenia, Cachexia and Wasting Disorders, member (2015-2018)

The British Society of Gerontology (2017- 2019)



Key Research Interests

  • Nutrition and musculoskeletal health (osteoporosis, fractures, sarcopenia & age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function)
  • Diet and aging
  • Dietary methodology
  • Dietary fat and protein composition, micronutrients, dietary patterns and acid-base load
  • Malnutrition
  • Public health nutrition

Selected Publications 

Recently accepted publications:

Hayhoe RPB, Lentjes MAH, Mulligan AA, Luben RN, Khaw KT, Welch AA.

Carotenoid dietary intakes and plasma concentrations are associated with heel bone ultrasound attenuation and osteoporotic fracture risk in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. B J Nut (Accepted 27/4/17)

Craig J, Bunn D, Hayhoe R, Appleyard W, Lenaghan E, Welch A.

The relationship between the Mediterranean dietary pattern and musculoskeletal health in children, adolescents and adults: a systematic review and evidence map. Nutrition Research Reviews (Accepted 21/4/17)


Kelaiditi E, Jennings A, Steves CJ, Skinner J, Cassidy A, MacGregor AJ, Welch AA

Measurements of skeletal muscle mass and power are positively related to a Mediterranean dietary pattern in women. Osteoporos Int. 2016 Nov;27(11):3251-3260

Welch AA, Kelaiditi E, Jennings A, Steves CJ, Spector TD, MacGregor A.

Dietary Magnesium Is Positively Associated With Skeletal Muscle Power and Indices of Muscle Mass and May Attenuate the Association Between Circulating C-Reactive Protein and Muscle Mass in Women. J Bone Miner Res. 2016 Feb;31(2):317-25.

 Levy LB, Welch AA.

Implications of skeletal muscle loss for public health nutrition messages: a brief report. Proc Nutr Soc. 2015 Jun 11:1-4. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26062652. IF 4.937

Hayhoe RP, Lentjes MA, Luben RN, Khaw KT, Welch AA.

Dietary magnesium and potassium intakes and circulating magnesium are associated with heel bone ultrasound attenuation and osteoporotic fracture risk in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug;102(2):376-84. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.102723. Epub 2015 Jul 1.  IF 6.918

Jennings A, MacGregor A, Welch A, Chowienczyk P, Spector T, Cassidy A.

Amino Acid Intake Is Inversely Associated with Arterial Stiffness and Central Blood Pressure in Women. J Nutr. 2015 Jul 22. pii: jn214700. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26203100. IF 3.97

Finck H, Hart AR, Jennings A, Welch AA.

Is there a role for vitamin C in preventing osteoporosis and fractures? A review of the potential underlying mechanisms and current epidemiological evidence. Nutr Res Rev. 2014 Dec;27(2):268-83. IF 3.5

Weaver CM, Teegarden D, Welch A, Hwalla N, Lelièvre S.

International breast cancer and nutrition: a model for research, training and policy in diet, epigenetics, and chronic disease prevention. Adv Nutr. 2014 Sep;5(5):566-7. IF 4.7

Lentjes MA, Welch AA, Mulligan AA, Luben RN, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT.

Cod liver oil supplement consumption and health: cross-sectional results from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort study. Nutrients. 2014 Oct 16;6(10):4320-37. doi: 10.3390/nu6104320. IF 3.418

Lentjes MA, Welch AA, Keogh RH, Luben RN, Khaw KT.

Opposites don't attract: high spouse concordance for dietary supplement use in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer in Norfolk (EPIC-Norfolk) cohort study. Public Health Nutr. 2015 Apr;18(6):1060-6. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014001396. Epub 2014 Jul 30. IF 2.679

Lentjes MA, Mulligan AA, Welch AA, Bhaniani A, Luben RN, Khaw KT.

Contribution of cod liver oil-related nutrients (vitamins A, D, E and eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) to daily nutrient intake and their associations with plasma concentrations in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2014 Sep 16. IF 1.987

Welch AA, Hardcastle AC.

The effects of flavonoids on bone. Curr Osteoporos Rep. 2014 Jun;12(2):205-10. doi: 10.1007/s11914-014-0212-5. IF 2.728

Welch AA, MacGregor AJ, Minihane AM, Skinner J, Valdes AA, Spector TD, Cassidy A.

Dietary fat and fatty acid profile are associated with indices of skeletal muscle mass in women aged 18-79 years. J Nutr. 2014 Mar;144(3):327-34. doi: 10.3945/jn.113.185256. IF 3.97

Welch AA.

Nutritional influences on age-related skeletal muscle loss. Proc Nutr Soc. 2014 Feb;73(1):16-33. IF 3.62

Jennings A, Cassidy A, Winters T, Barnes S, Lipp A, Holland R, Welch A.

Positive effect of a targeted intervention to improve access and availability of fruit and vegetables in an area of deprivation. Health Place. 2012 Sep;18(5):1074-8. Epub 2012 Jun 1.

Welch A, Macgregor A, Jennings A, Fairweather-Tait S, Spector T, Cassidy A.

Habitual flavonoid intakes are positively associated with bone mineral density in women. J Bone Miner Res. 2012 Sep;27(9):1872-8.

Myint PK, Welch AA.

Healthier ageing. BMJ. 2012 Mar 12;344:e1214. doi:10.1136/bmj.e1214. PubMed PMID: 22411918.

Welch AA, Shakya-Shrestha S, Lentjes MA, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT.

Dietary intake and status of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a population of fish-eating and  non-fish-eating meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans and the precursor-product ratio of ?-linolenic acid to long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: results  from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1040-51. Epub 2010 Sep 22. PubMed PMID: 20861171.

Welch AA, Fransen H, Jenab M, Boutron-Ruault MC, Tumino R, Agnoli C, Ericson U, Johansson I, Ferrari P, Engeset D, Lund E, Lentjes M, Key T, Touvier M, Niravong M, Larrañaga N, Rodríguez L, Ocké MC, Peeters PH, Tjønneland A, Bjerregaard L, Vasilopoulou E, Dilis V, Linseisen J, Nöthlings U, Riboli E, Slimani N, Bingham S.

Variation in intakes of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium in 10 countries in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Nov;63 Suppl 4:S101-21. PubMed  PMID: 19888269.

Welch AA, Mulligan A, Bingham SA, Khaw KT. 

Urine pH is an indicator of dietary acid-base load, fruit and vegetables and meat intakes: results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Norfolk population study. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun;99(6):1335-43.

Welch AA, Bingham SA, Reeve J, Khaw KT. 

More acidic dietary acid-base load is associated with reduced calcaneal broadband ultrasound attenuation in women but not in men: results from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):1134-41.

Research Group or Lab Membership

  • Scientific lead for the ‘Public Health Nutrition theme’ for the Nutrition Society (2011 to present)
  • Member of the Council of the UK Nutrition Society and member of the Science Committee (elected 2009)
  • Chair of the Nutrition and Lifestyle Forum of the National Osteoporosis Society (2013 to 2019, member from 2009)
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Osteoporosis Society (2013 to 2019)
  • Co-lead  for the Norfolk and Suffolk Metabolic and Endocrine Specialty Group of the UK Comprehensive Local Research Network. Member of the UK National Metabolic and Endocrine Specialty Group (2007-2013)
  • Co-lead  for the Eastern Region Metabolic and Endocrine Specialty Group of the UK Comprehensive Research Network and member of the UK National Group (2013-2015)


Areas of Expertise

Nutrition and healthy ageing (nutritional epidemiology): musculoskeletal health (sarcopenia, age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, osteoporosis & risk of fractures); dietary fat (fish & omega 3 fatty acids); dietary protein composition; vitamins & minerals and dietary acid-base balance. Dietary methodologies; translation of epidemiology into public health; evaluating public health interventions.

Teaching Interests

Ailsa has experience teaching in a wide range of contexts and topics both at undergraduate and post-graduate level. She has a number of internal and external PhD students. Ailsa also has a national role as a member of the Member of the national ICGN Undergraduate Nutrition Education Implementation Group for development of nutrition education in the medical undergraduate curriculum (since 2010), and has a number of teaching roles in the UEA MBBS.

  • Deputy lead module 6 (homeostasis & hormones - diabetes, endocrinology, renal & urology) with responsibility for curriculum organization and content, including timetabling, writing and checking scenarios and writing learning outcomes (2007-2013)

  • Deputy theme lead for nutrition with roles in curriculum development and assessment. Examples: increased number of seminars and lectures from 16 to 20, wrote exam questions and learning outcomes (2007-2013)

  • Student selected study (SSS) tutor and examiner for nutrition and epidemiological subjects – year 1 (2010 to present)

  • Research SSS (student selected studies) in nutrition. Students in years 2-4 (currently 5 – 6 in total) (2014 to present)

  • Electives tutor for 16 students (2015 to present)

  • Problem based learning tutor for the MBBS medical degree course for years 1, 3 and now 4 (group size of 10 for 20 weeks) (2008-2013)

  • Assessment: standard setting of exam papers for the MBBS, marking of critical appraisal reviews, research protocols

  • MBBS student adviser: pastoral and career advice to 7 students

  • MBBS research project student supervisor: development of projects, literature research, statistical analysis and writing of projects (2010-2012)

  • Lectures and seminars in nutrition and in epidemiological methods: ‘Nutritional Methods’, ‘Vitamin D & Calcium’, ‘Epidemiology of Anaemia’, ’Vitamins & Bioactives’, ‘Nutrition in Pregnancy & Early Life’, ‘Nutrition and Drug Interactions’ and ‘critical appraisal of a selected epidemiological paper’

  • Assessment for the UEA masters in medical research: marking of critical appraisal of peer reviewed papers

  • Postgraduate teaching session ‘How to write for publication (epidemiology)’ (2012-2015)

  • Project supervisor for University College Dublin undergraduate placement students (2009-2013)


External teaching


  • External examiner for: MSc course in Nutrition for Global Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2014 to present)

  • Imperial College MSc in Cardiology: lecture ‘Diet and cardiovascular disease in a British population’ (2011-2014)

  • The University of Suffolk ‘Dietary Assessment and Measurement Error’ (2010).

  • University of Westminster MSc International Public Health Nutrition: lecture on ‘Dietary Nutritional measurement: issues and solutions with examples from the EPIC Study’ (2001-2011)

  • University of Cambridge Mphil in Epidemiology: Co-designed the nutritional epidemiology course and its content. Lectures and seminar discussions (1993-2007).

  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine MSc Public Health Nutrition: lecture ‘the EPIC-Norfolk Study’ (1999-2001)

  • University of Surrey MSc in Nutritional Medicine: lecture ‘Dietary Assessment Methods’ (1999-2003)



  • Introductory Certificate in Management Studies, pass 2001

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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