Dr Helen Walls

Associate Professor

United Kingdom

I am a public health researcher with a primary research focus on food systems and alcohol, particularly their political economy and interaction with wider policy and system change. These wider issues include corporate influence such as through trade and investment policy, migration and population mobility, and the climate crisis. I have an MSc(Hons) from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and a PhD in epidemiology from Monash University, Australia. After finishing my PhD and working at the Australian National University I was awarded an NHMRC Sidney Sax Public Health Fellowship and began working in 2012 in London with the School. Prior to my PhD studies, I worked in public health in New Zealand regionally and with the Ministry of Health. I have over 100 academic publications in peer-reviewed journals, and have consulted to a range of global health organisations including being based in Geneva with the World Health Organization. I hold honorary appointments at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.


Department of Global Health and Development
Faculty of Public Health and Policy


I am Deputy Programme Director for the distance-learning MSc, Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate in Global Health Policy. Other teaching roles include contributions to the distance-learning module Health Policy, Process and Power, lecturing on modules within the Global Health Policy programme, as well as giving lectures at external institutions.

I also supervise several PhD and DrPH students, as well as Masters students undertaking summer projects – and welcome enquiries about research supervision on areas related to my research interests.


My research takes a mixed-methods approach and is highly interdisciplinary in nature. It spans countries of all income levels, with considerable recent work undertaken in Malawi, Senegal and The Gambia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. I am particularly interested in research that contributes to food system transformation, and that draws on understandings and methods from policy analysis and engages with the complexity of whole system change including in relation to climate. I also have an active interest in the conceptual and methodological development of policy analysis, such as for example through contributions to the conceptualisation of actor power and other aspects of the policy process.

I am principal investigator for a work programme funded by the European Union and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development which focuses on food system transformation in low- and middle-income countries, aiming to bring fresh perspectives to understanding how to achieve healthy and sustainable diets. I have also been principal investigator and co-investigator on a number of other studies, including two programmes of work funded by the Drivers of Food Choice Competitive Grants Program (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office). One of these for which I was principal investigator in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Malawi and SOAS University of London, examined the impact of Malawi's agricultural input subsidy programmes on food choice and dietary diversity. I am also currently co-investigator of a programme of work relating to migration and cross-border healthcare use in West Africa.

I am also a co-author of the new edition of 'Making Health Policy' for the Open University Press, published in 2023.

I am based within the Health Policy and Systems Unit at LSHTM, and lead the Political Economy of Health and Health Policy (PEHHP) research group.

Selected Publications

How Livelihood Change Affects Food Choice Behaviors in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: A Scoping Review.
Kenney, E; Rampalli, KK; Samin, S; Frongillo, EA; Reyes, LI; Bhandari, S; Boncyk, M; Nordhagen, S; WALLS, H; Wertheim-Heck, S; Ickowitz, A; Cunningham, SA; Ambikapathi, R; Ekesa, B; Matita, M; Blake, CE;
Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)
The politics of agricultural policy and nutrition: A case study of Malawi's Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP).
WALLS, H; Johnston, D; Matita, M; Kamwanja, T; Smith, R; Nanama, S;
PLOS global public health
Food choice responses to changes in the price of a staple crop: a discrete choice experiment of maize in rural Malawi
Matita, M; Mazalale, J; Quaife, M; Johnston, D; CORNELSEN, L; Kamwanja, T; Smith, R; WALLS, H;
Food Security
Lessons from Malawi's Farm Input Subsidy Programme.
WALLS, H; Matita, M;
Nature food
How effectively might agricultural input subsidies improve nutrition? A case study of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)
WALLS, H; Johnston, D; Matita, M; Chirwa, E; Mazalale, J; Quaife, M; Kamwanja, T; Smith, R;
Food Security
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