Dr Helen Walls

BSc MPH(Hons) PhD

Associate Professor
of Global Health and Food Systems

15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

0207 927 2606

My research interest is the structural drivers of population health. This work particularly focuses on the political economy of food systems and nutrition.

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 also worked with the World Health Organization (Geneva) on trade policy, diets and non-communicable disease.

I am on the Management Committee of the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health, and am an Associate Editor of the journal BMC Obesity. I also hold honorary positions with the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and the University of Melbourne, Australia.


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


I am the Module Organiser for the MSc distance-learning module 'Health Policy, Process and Power' on the distance learning MSc in Public Health. I lecture on the in-house module 'Globalisation and Health'. I also currently supervise several PhD students.

I welcome applications from potential PhD students and current MSc students to supervise summer projects on food systems and policy, and other areas related to my research interests.


I am currently involved in two programmes of work funded by the Drivers of Food Choice Competitive Grants Program (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; UK Department for International Development).

One of these research projects, which I lead, examines the impact of Malawi's agricultural input subsidy programme on food choice and dietary diversity. This is in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Malawi and SOAS University of London.

The second of these projects examines the use of financial incentive schemes to incentivise fruit and vegetables consumption in rural India. This is in collaboration with a range of research institutions in India.

I am also a co-investigator on several additional projects, relating to alcohol policy, and migration and cross-border healthcare use. The alcohol work evaluates health and corporate actor engagement with a campaign to reduce alcohol consumption. With the migration and health system projects, one examines the linkages between migration, gender and health systems responses in South Africa. The other explores cross-border healthcare use and its challenges in Senegal and The Gambia.

Research Area
Health inequalities
Health policy
Public health
Evidence use
Global Health
Policy analysis
Disease and Health Conditions
Chronic disease
Non-communicable diseases

Selected Publications

Does household participation in food markets increase dietary diversity? Evidence from rural Malawi
Matita M; Chirwa EW; Johnston D; Mazalale J; Smith R; Walls H
Global Food Security
Addressing Malnutrition: The Importance of Political Economy Analysis of Power.
Walls H; Nisbett N; Laar A; Drimie S; Zaidi S; Harris J
International journal of health policy and management
Economic globalization, nutrition and health: a review of quantitative evidence.
Cuevas García-Dorado S; Cornselsen L; Smith R; Walls H
Globalization and Health
What drives political commitment for nutrition? A review and framework synthesis to inform the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition.
Baker P; Hawkes C; Wingrove K; Demaio AR; Parkhurst J; Thow AM; Walls H
BMJ global health
Concepts and critical perspectives for food environment research: A global framework with implications for action in low- and middle-income countries
Turner C; Aggarwal A; Walls H; Herforth A; Drewnowski A; Coates J; Kalamatianou S; Kadiyala S
Global Food Security
Why we are still failing to measure the nutrition transition.
Walls HL; Johnston D; Mazalale J; Chirwa EW
BMJ global health
See more Publications