University of Hertfordshire

Professor Wendy Wills



Professor Wendy Wills is a sociologist and a registered nutritionist specialising in public health. Her research focuses on the social and socio-economic determinants of obesity, food practices and malnutrition and she has a particular interest in inequalities and how they are produced and experienced by different population groups. 

Wendy is the Director of CRIPACC [Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care] and an Associate Dean of Research for the School of Health and Social Work at the University of Hertfordshire.

Wendy has directed several major research grants, including for the ESRC and Food Standards Agency, and was formerly a member of the FSA's Social Science Research Committee and convenor of the British Sociological Association's Food Study Group. 


CRIPACC is an internationally renowned multidisciplinary research centre focused on producing research that makes a difference to people’s lives by improving the quality of health and social care services and promoting health and wellbeing. Key areas of research activity include:

  • Communities, Young People and Family Lives
  • Older People’s Health and Complex Conditions
  • Patient Experience and Public Involvement

Wendy also leads the Prevention and Early Detection in Health and Social Care research theme for the NIHR ARC East of England which aims to:

  • Identify and address ways to support different populations and potentially vulnerable groups to sustain their health and wellbeing
  • Better understand how to help key groups to recognise, at the earliest opportunity, signs of illness or disease in themselves and others and to take action
  • Work with local communities and health and social care staff to develop and evaluate strategies for early detection and referral to services, based on research evidence
  • Clarify the currently under-determined distinction, which is crucial for effective policy and care, between population screening, targeted screening, proactive and reactive early detection strategies.

Wendy co-leads the University of Hertfordshire-led NIHR Public Health Interventions Responsive Studies Team (PHIRST); PHIRSTs are new initiatives funded to undertake priority research and evaluation for local authorities across the four nations of the UK over the next three years.



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Links to websites, films and an educational board game relating to Wendy’s research and public engagement activities: - launched during the UK's first Malnutrition Awareness week in 2018 this film shows the importance of social interactions when food shopping this board game was developed with a UH proof of concept grant in collaboration with Focus Games; it is aimed at training people/groups who support older people to remain nourished and well. - public policy briefings - this short film, funded by a UH research grant, brings to life our research on food and drink purchasing 'beyond the school gate'.


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