If you were asked to name one person who has changed how we eat and live, the best answer very likely would be Walter Willett, described in a recent feature story in the Boston Globe as “the world’s most influential nutritionist.”
A leading voice in national and global campaigns for healthier food, Willett chairs HSPH’s Department of Nutrition. 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 among the breakthrough insights we owe to Willett and his HSPH colleagues. He 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 most widely cited academic in his field, Willett’s stature in the scientific community has accorded him an outsize role in shaping nutrition policy and influencing eating habits. He is the author of the national bestseller Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating and has been in the forefront of many healthy eating campaigns, including those aimed at limiting consumption of colas and other sugar-sweetened beverages that are leading causes of obesity and related health problems such as diabetes.
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