If you were asked to name one person who has changed how we eat and live, the answer could well be Walter Willett, MPH ’73, DrPH ’80, chair of HSPH’s Department of Nutrition.
A leading voice in national and global campaigns for healthier food, Willett and his collaborators are widely credited with proving that diet plays a major role in the outbreak and prevention of ailments including cancer, cardiac disease, and diabetes. The dangers of trans fats, the link between sugary beverages and the global obesity epidemic, and the association of red meat consumption with colon cancer are just a few of the breakthrough insights we owe to Willett and his HSPH colleagues.
One of the most prolific and widely cited researchers in his field, Willett’s stature in the scientific community has accorded him an outsized role in shaping nutrition policy and influencing individuals’ eating habits. Willett is one of the driving forces behind HSPH’s The Nutrition Source—a website that provides clear, scientifically sound advice on healthy eating to millions of visitors a year—and he has been at the forefront of many healthy eating campaigns targeting the leading causes of obesity and related health problems such as diabetes.