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Instructions for authors

Public Health Nutrition (PHN) provides an international, peer-reviewed forum for the publication and dissemination of research with a specific focus on nutrition-related public health. The Journal publishes original and commissioned articles, high quality meta-analyses and reviews, commentaries and discussion papers for debate, as well as special issues. It also seeks to identify and publish special supplements on major topics of interest to readers.


The scope of Public Health Nutrition includes multi-level determinants of dietary intake and patterns, anthropometry, food systems, and their effects on health-related outcomes. We welcome papers that:

  • Address monitoring and surveillance of nutritional status and nutritional environments in communities or populations at risk
  • Identify and analyse behavioral, sociocultural, economic, political, and environmental determinants of nutrition-related public health
  • Develop methodology needed for assessment and monitoring
  • Inform efforts to improve communication of nutrition-related information
  • Build workforce capacity for effective public health nutrition action
  • Evaluate or discuss the effectiveness of food and nutrition policies
  • Describe the development, implementation, and evaluation of innovative interventions and programs to address nutrition-related problems
  • Relate diet and nutrition to sustainability of the environment and food systems 
  • Papers that do not fall within the scope as described above may be directed to more appropriate journals. We prefer papers that are innovative (do not repeat research already undertaken elsewhere) and relevant to an international readership. Articles included as part of a special supplementary issue can be accepted even if descriptive or country-focused, if the contribution of the article to a supplement is clear and if the supplement, as a whole, fits the scope of the journal


PHN publishes Research Articles, Short Communications, Review Articles, Commentaries, Letter to the Editors and Editorials. Manuscripts should be submitted via Please contact the Editorial Office on regarding any other types of submission.

  1. A typical Research Article should be no more than 5000 words; not including the abstract, references, tables, figures and acknowledgements.
  1. Short Communication should consist of no more than 2000 words and have a maximum of 3 tables OR figures.
  1. A Commentary is a short piece of less than 2000 words that provides perspective on a topic of current relevance or controversy. 
  1. A Letter to the Editor should discuss, criticise or develop themes put forward in papers published in PHN; they should not be used as a means of publishing new work. Acceptance will be at the discretion of the Editorial Board, and editorial changes may be required. Wherever possible, letters from responding authors will be included in the same issue.

For systematic reviews and meta-analyses, the journal endorses the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) Statement (see British Medical Journal (2009) 339, b2535). Such submissions should follow the PRISMA guidelines and authors should include the PRISMA checklist with their submission (see instructions below).

In the case of research articles submitted as part of a special supplementary issue, every article should contribute to innovation, either independently or as part of the supplement. Articles submitted as part of a special supplement that are purely descriptive can only be publishable if:

  1. 1) the descriptive results reported are vital to meeting the aim(s) of the supplement, such as a comparative approach
  2. 2) the aim(s) of the supplement fits the scope of PHN as outlined under SCOPE
  3. 3) the text of the introduction, methods and discussion includes justification of the importance of the (descriptive) results in relation to the supplement aim(s)
  4. 4) the authors directly compare their descriptive results to other results from the supplement or in the submission letter the authors state that the comparison between their results and others will be made in another article in the same supplement and specify which one. 


PHN uses ScholarOne Manuscripts for online submission and peer review. As part of the online submission process, authors are asked to affirm that the submission represents original work that has not been published previously; that it is not currently being considered by another journal; and that each author has seen and approved the contents of the submitted manuscript.

Please note that PHN uses plagiarism-checking software to screen papers. By submitting your paper you are agreeing to any necessary originality checks your paper may undergo during the peer review process.

At submission, authors must nominate at least four potential referees who may be asked by the Editorial Board to help review the work. Where possible, authors should provide the email address and institution of their recommended referees. Please ensure that these potential referees are not located at the same affiliation as any of the co-authors. PHN uses a double-blind review process, and manuscripts are normally reviewed by two external peer reviewers and a member of the Editorial Board. 

Authors may submit a paper that has previously been posted on a preprint server, however please note that the journal operates a double-blind peer review process and therefore your paper may not be fully blinded as a result.

Revisions must be resubmitted within 2 months or they will be deemed a new paper. When substantial revisions are required after review, authors are normally given the opportunity to do this once only; the need for any further changes should reflect only minor issues

Appeals against an editorial decision will only be considered under exceptional circumstances. To have an appeal considered, please submit an appeal letter by responding to the decision letter directly, or directly to the Editorial Office at Decisions on appeals are made by the Editor-in-Chief. If over six months has passed between the original decision and a successful appeal, your paper may be subject to further peer review at the Editor’s discretion.

If you have any other concerns about the handling of a manuscript or editorial processes of the journal, please contact or the journal’s publisher, Cambridge University Press, on


ORCID provides a unique identifier for researchers and through integration in key research workflows such as publication and grant applications, links your professional activities. We strongly encourage authors to link their ORCID identifier to their ScholarOne account. If you do not already have an ORCID identifier, registration is fast and free, and you can register directly from your ScholarOne account or at ORCID iDs provided in ScholarOne will be published in the final article.


PHN adheres to the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines on research and publications ethics. The Journal considers all manuscripts on the strict condition that:

  1. The manuscript is your own original work, and does not duplicate any previously published work;
  1. The manuscript has been submitted only to the journal - it is not under consideration or peer review or accepted for publication or in press or published elsewhere;
  1. All listed authors know of and agree to the manuscript being submitted to the journal; and
  1. The manuscript contains nothing abusive, defamatory, fraudulent, illegal, libellous, or obscene.

Text taken directly or closely paraphrased from earlier published work that has not been acknowledged or referenced will be considered plagiarism. Submitted manuscripts in which such text is identified will be withdrawn from the editorial process. Any concerns raised about possible plagiarism or other violations of ethical guidelines in an article submitted to or published in PHN will be investigated fully and dealt with in accordance with the COPE guidelines.

The Nutrition Society, as the owner of PHN, endorses the Publication Ethics outlined by Cambridge University Press.

PHN recommends that authors consult the Reappraised Research Integrity Checklist by Grey et al. (Nature (2020)) before submitting their paper.


A ‘preprint’ is an early version of an article prior to the version accepted for publication in a journal. We encourage authors to include details of preprint posting, including DOI or other persistent identifier, when submitting to PHN.

For full details, please see our preprint policy here.



Papers submitted for publication must be written in English and should be as concise as possible. We recommend that authors have their manuscript checked by an English language native speaker before submission, to ensure that submissions are judged at peer review exclusively on academic merit.

We list a number of third-party services specialising in language editing and / or translation, and suggest that authors contact as appropriate. Use of any of these services is voluntary, and at the author's own expense.

Spelling should generally be that of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1995), 9th ed. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Authors are advised to consult a current issue in order to make themselves familiar with PHN as to typographical and other conventions, layout of tables etc.


The Journal conforms to the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) definition of authorship. Authorship credit should be based on:

  1. Substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work; and
  2. Drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and
  3. Final approval of the version to be published; and
  4. Agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

The contribution of individuals who were involved in the study but do not meet these criteria should be described in the Acknowledgements section.

Ethical standards

All submissions must abide by the guidelines in the World Medical Association (2000) Declaration of Helsinki: Ethical Principles for Medical Research Involving Human Subjects, with notes of clarification of 2002 and 2004 (, the Guidelines on the Practice of Ethics Committees Involved in Medical Research Involving Human Subjects (3rd ed., 1996; London: The Royal College of Physicians) and the Guidelines for the Ethical Conduct of Medical Research Involving Children, revised in 2000 by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health: Ethics Advisory Committee (Arch Dis Child (2000) 82, 177–182).

PRISMA Checklist

For systematic reviews and meta-analyses, PHN requires completion of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) checklist ( This policy includes all systematic reviews, including those for observational studies. A completed copy of the checklist should be submitted along with the manuscript, with page numbers noted as required. When a given item has not been addressed, authors must provide an explanation.

Editors and reviewers will not evaluate manuscripts based on the number of items checked off in the checklist. The purpose of the PRISMA guidelines is to recommend a critical set of items that should typically be reported in a manuscript. The guidelines are meant to improve transparency by helping authors improve the quality of their reporting. More clarity in reporting will facilitate review of your manuscript and increase its value to readers.

Cover Letter

Authors are invited to submit a cover letter including a short explanation of how the article advances the field of public health nutrition in terms of research, practice, or policy, and of its relevance to an international readership. The text for the cover letter should be entered in the appropriate box as part of the online submission process.

Authors that are part of a funded supplement should make reference to this fact in the cover letter, identifying clearly which supplement their article is intended to be part of.

Title Page

Authors must submit a title page online as a separate file to their manuscript, to enable double-blind reviewing. For the same reason, the information on the title page should not be included in the manuscript itself. For a template title page, please click here; the title page should include:

  1. The title of the article;
  2. Authors' names, given without titles or degrees;
  3. Name and address of department(s) and institution(s) to which the work should be attributed for each author, with each author's institution(s) identified by a superscript number (e.g. A.B. Smith1);
  4. Name, mailing address, email address, telephone and fax numbers of the author responsible for correspondence about the manuscript;
  5. A shortened version of the title, not exceeding 45 characters (including letters and spaces) in length;
  6. Disclosure statements, as outlined below. These must be included on the title page and not in the manuscript file, to enable double-blind reviewing; if the paper is accepted, they will be inserted into the manuscript during production.

Here you may acknowledge individuals or organizations that provided advice and/or support (non-financial). Formal financial support and funding should be listed in the following section.

Financial Support

Please provide details of the sources of financial support for all authors, including grant numbers. For example, "This work was supported by the Medical research Council (grant number XXXXXXX)". Multiple grant numbers should be separated by a comma and space, and where research was funded by more than one agency the different agencies should be separated by a semi-colon, with "and" before the final funder. Grants held by different authors should be identified as belonging to individual authors by the authors' initials. For example, "This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust (A.B., grant numbers XXXX, YYYY), (C.D., grant number ZZZZ); the Natural Environment Research Council (E.F., grant number FFFF); and the National Institutes of Health (A.B., grant number GGGG), (E.F., grant number HHHH)".

This disclosure is particularly important in the case of research supported by industry, including not only direct financial support for the study but also support in kind such as provision of medications, equipment, kits or reagents without charge or at reduced cost and provision of services such as statistical analysis. All such support, financial and in kind, should be disclosed here.

Where no specific funding has been provided for research, please provide the following statement: "This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors."

In addition to the source of financial support, please state whether the funder contributed to the study design, conduct of the study, analysis of samples or data, interpretation of findings or the preparation of the manuscript. If the funder made no such contribution, please provide the following statement: "[Funder's name] had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article."

Conflict of Interest

The Journal adheres to the definition of conflicts of interest given by the ICMJE guidelines. A conflict of interest exists when an author has interests that might inappropriately influence his or her judgement, even if that judgement is not influenced. Financial relationships such as employment, consultancies, or honoraria, are the most easily identifiable conflicts of interest. However, non-financial conflicts can also exist as a result of personal relationships, academic competition, and personal or intellectual beliefs.

Having a conflict of interest is not in itself wrong, and not all relationships may lead to an actual conflict of interest. However, PHN requires full disclosure about any relevant relationships, even if the author or reviewer does not believe it affects their judgment. These disclosures can then be used as a basis for editorial decisions. One question that provides some guidance in deciding which relationships merit declaration as potential conflicts of interest is this: if a relationship is not disclosed, would a reasonable reader feel misled? When in doubt, full transparency is the best course of action. Perceived conflicts of interest are as important as actual conflicts of interest, and undeclared conflicts (perceived as well as actual) can undermine the credibility of both the journal and the authors.

So that others can make judgements about potential conflicts, please provide details of all known financial and non-financial (professional and personal) relationships with the potential to bias the work. Where no known conflicts of interest exist, please include the following statement: "None."


Please provide a very brief description of the contribution of each author to the research. Their roles in formulating the research question(s), designing the study, carrying it out, analysing the data and writing the article should be made plain.

Ethical Standards Disclosure

Manuscripts describing research involving human participants must include the following statement: "This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving research study participants were approved by the [name of the ethics committee]. Written [or Verbal] informed consent was obtained from all subjects/patients." Where verbal consent was obtained, this must be followed by a statement such as: "Verbal consent was witnessed and formally recorded."

Manuscript Format

The requirements of PHN are in accordance with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals produced by the ICMJE, and authors are encouraged to consult the latest guidelines, which contain useful, general information about preparing scientific papers. Authors should also consult the CONSORT guidelines for reporting results of randomised trials.

For detailed instructions regarding mathematical modelling, statistical analysis and nomenclature requirements, please refer to the Appendix to these instructions.

Typescripts should be prepared with 1.5 line spacing and wide margins (2 cm), the preferred font being Times New Roman size 12. At the ends of lines, words should not be hyphenated unless hyphens are to be printed. Continuous line and page numbering is required.



Each paper must open with a structured abstract of not more than 250 words. The abstract should consist of the following headings: Objective, Design, Setting, Participants, Results, Conclusions. All the headings should be used, and there should be a separate paragraph for each one. The abstract should be intelligible without reference to text or figures.


Authors should list at least four keywords or phrases (each containing up to three words).


It is not necessary to introduce a paper with a full account of the relevant literature, but the introduction should indicate briefly the nature of the question asked and the reasons for asking it.


For manuscripts describing experiments involving human subjects, the required ethical standards disclosure statement must be included on the title page only as described above. It will then be inserted into this section of the manuscript during production.


These should be given as concisely as possible, using figures or tables as appropriate. Data should not be duplicated in tables and figures.


While it is generally desirable that the presentation of the results and the discussion of their significance should be presented separately, there may be occasions when combining these sections may be beneficial. Authors may also find that additional or alternative sections such as 'conclusions' may be useful.


References should be numbered consecutively in the order in which they first appear in the text using superscript Arabic numerals in parentheses, e.g. 'The conceptual difficulty of this approach has recently been highlighted(1,2)'. If a reference is cited more than once, the same number should be used each time. References cited only in tables and figure legends should be numbered in sequence from the last number used in the text and in the order of mention of the individual tables and figures in the text.

Names and initials of authors of unpublished work should be given in the text as 'unpublished results' and not included in the References. References that have been published online only but not yet in an issue should include the online publication date and the Digital Object Identifier (doi) reference, as per the example below.

At the end of the paper, on a page(s) separate from the text, references should be listed in numerical order using the Vancouver system. When an article has more than three authors only the names of the first three authors should be given followed by 'et al.' The issue number should be omitted if there is continuous pagination throughout a volume. Titles of journals should appear in their abbreviated form using the NCBI LinkOut page. References to books and monographs should include the town of publication and the number of the edition to which reference is made. References to material available on websites should follow a similar style, with the full URL included at the end of the reference, as well as the date of the version cited and the date of access.

Examples of correct forms of references are given below.

Journal articles

    1. Rebello SA, Koh H, Chen C et al. (2014) Amount, type, and sources of carbohydrates in relation to ischemic heart disease mortality in a Chinese population: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr 100, 53-64.
    1. Villar J, Ismail LC, Victora CG et al. (2014) International standards for newborn weight, length, and head circumference by gestational age and sex: the Newborn Cross-Sectional Study of the INTERGROWTH-21st Project.Lancet 384, 857-868.
    1. Alonso VR & Guarner F (2013) Linking the gut microbiota to human health. Br J Nutr 109, Suppl. 2, S21–S26.
    1. Bauserman M, Lokangaka A, Gado J et al. A cluster-randomized trial determining the efficacy of caterpillar cereal as a locally available and sustainable complementary food to prevent stunting and anaemia. Public Health Nutr. Published online: 29 January 2015. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014003334.

Books and monographs

    1. Bradbury J (2002) Dietary intervention in edentulous patients. PhD Thesis, University of Newcastle.
    1. Ailhaud G & Hauner H (2004) Development of white adipose tissue. In Handbook of Obesity. Etiology and Pathophysiology, 2nd ed., pp. 481–514 [GA Bray and C Bouchard, editors]. New York: Marcel Dekker.
    1. Bruinsma J (editor) (2003) World Agriculture towards 2015/2030: An FAO Perspective. London: Earthscan Publications.
    2. World Health Organization (2003) Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. WHO Technical Report Series no. 916. Geneva: WHO.
    1. Keiding L (1997) Astma, Allergi og Anden Overfølsomhed i Danmark – Og Udviklingen 1987–199I (Asthma, Allergy and Other Hypersensitivities in Denmark, 1987–1991). Copenhagen, Denmark: Dansk Institut for Klinisk Epidemiologi.

Sources from the internet

    1. Nationmaster (2005) HIV AIDS – Adult prevalence rate. (accessed June 2013).

For authors that use Endnote, you can find the style guide for PHN here


Tables should be placed in the main manuscript file at the end of the document, not within the main text. Be sure that each table is cited in the text. Tables should carry headings describing their content and should be comprehensible without reference to the text. 

The dimensions of the values, e.g. mg/kg, should be given at the top of each column. Separate columns should be used for measures of variance (SD, SE etc.), the ± sign should not be used. The number of decimal places used should be standardized; for whole numbers 1.0, 2.0 etc. should be used. Shortened forms of the words weight (wt) and height (ht) may be used to save space in tables.

Footnotes are given in the following order: (1) abbreviations, (2) superscript letters, (3) symbols. Abbreviations are given in the format: RS, resistant starch. Abbreviations in tables must be defined in footnotes in the order that they appear in the table (reading from left to right across the table, then down each column). Symbols for footnotes should be used in the sequence: *†‡§||¶, then ** etc. (omit * or †, or both, from the sequence if they are used to indicate levels of significance).

For indicating statistical significance, superscript letters or symbols may be used. Superscript letters are useful where comparisons are within a row or column and the level of significance is uniform, e.g. 'a,b,cMean values within a column with unlike superscript letters were significantly different (P<0•05)'. Symbols are useful for indicating significant differences between rows or columns, especially where different levels of significance are found, e.g. 'Mean values were significantly different from those of the control group: *P<0•05, **P<0•01, ***P<0•001'. The symbols used for P values in the tables must be consistent.


Figures should be supplied as separate electronic files. Figure legends should be grouped in a section at the end of the manuscript text. Each figure should be clearly marked with its number and separate panels within figures should be clearly marked (a), (b), (c) etc. so that they are easily identifiable when the article and figure files are merged for review. Each figure, with its legend, should be comprehensible without reference to the text and should include definitions of abbreviations.

We recommend that only TIFF, EPS or PDF formats are used for electronic artwork. Other formats (e.g., JPG, PPT and GIF files and images created in Microsoft Word) are usable but generally NOT suitable for conversion to print reproduction. For further information about how to prepare your figures, including sizing and resolution requirements, please see our artwork guide.

In curves presenting experimental results the determined points should be clearly shown, the symbols used being, in order of preference, ○, ●, ∆, ▲, □, ■, ×, +. Curves and symbols should not extend beyond the experimental points. Scale-marks on the axes should be on the inner side of each axis and should extend beyond the last experimental point. Ensure that lines and symbols used in graphs and shading used in histograms are large enough to be easily identified when the figure size is reduced to fit the printed page.

Colour figures will be published online free of charge, and there is a fee of £250 per figure for colour figures in the printed version. If you request colour figures in the printed version, you will be contacted by CCC-Rightslink who are acting on our behalf to collect colour charges. Please follow their instructions in order to avoid any delay in the publication of your article.

Supplementary material

Additional data (e.g. data sets, large tables) relevant to the paper can be submitted for publication online only, where they are made available via a link from the paper. The paper should stand alone without these data. Supplementary Material must be cited in a relevant place in the text of the paper.

Although Supplementary Material is peer reviewed, it is not checked, copyedited or typeset after acceptance and it is loaded onto the journal's website exactly as supplied. You should check your Supplementary Material carefully to ensure that it adheres to journal styles. Corrections cannot be made to the Supplementary Material after acceptance of the manuscript. Please bear this in mind when deciding what content to include as Supplementary Material.


Authors or their institutions retain copyright of papers published in PHN. The corresponding author is asked to complete a Publication Agreement form on behalf of all authors, and upload this with the manuscript files at the time of submission. The form includes confirmation that permission for all appropriate uses has been obtained from the copyright holder for any figures or other material not in the authors' copyright, and that the appropriate acknowledgement has been made to the original source. If the manuscript is not accepted, the form will be destroyed.


Authors in PHN have the option to publish their paper under a fully Open Access agreement, upon payment of a one-off Article Processing Charge. In this case, the final published Version of Record will be made freely available to all in perpetuity under a creative commons license, enabling its re-use and re-distribution. This Open Access option is only offered to authors upon acceptance of an article for publication.

Authors choosing the Open Access option are required to complete the Open Access Publication Agreement form. The Article Processing Charge for PHN is currently GBP £1,925/US $3,070 (plus VAT or local sales tax where applicable). More information about Open Access in PHN can be found on our website.

If an article is part of a Supplement then it will be agreed in advance whether the whole issue is to be published Open Access, with a CC-BY license. Authors will still need to complete an Open Access Publication Agreement form but will not be required to make payment for the Article Processing Charge as this should be covered by the funding body sponsoring the Supplementary Issue.


Public Health Nutrition has generous options to enable sharing of published articles through the Nutrition Society’s Green Open Access policy (Burdge et al. Br J Nutr. 2016 116(4):571-572): All material is freely available one year after publication.

Personal webpage


Institutional Repository

Non-commercial subject repository

Commercial repository/Social media sites

Accepted Manuscript*

On acceptance for publication

On acceptance for publication

On acceptance for publication

Abstract only in PDF or HTML format no sooner than the first publication of the full article

Version of record**

On publication

12 Months after first publication

12 Months after first publication

Abstract only in PDF or HTML format no sooner than the first publication of the full article

*The version that was accepted by the journal which has not been subjected to typesetting or other modification by the publisher

**The fully typeset version that appears in the printed and online issues of the journal.


AuthorAID is a global network that provides free support, mentoring, resources and training to help researchers in low- and middle-income countries to write, publish and otherwise communicate their work.

Key features of AuthorAID are:

• A community space for discussion and questions where researchers can benefit from advice and insights from members across the globe
• Access to a range of documents and presentations on best practice in writing and publication
• World-wide training workshops and MOOCs on scientific writing
• A chance to network with other researchers
personal mentoring by highly published researchers and professional editors

For any authors new to publishing research articles, we encourage you to make use of the AuthorAID resources before submitting your paper to PHN. Through the AuthorAID network, guidance can be found to help researchers through the process of writing and submitting scientific papers, advice about responding to reviewer comments, as well as research design and grant applications.

Please note that seeking support through AuthorAID will not guarantee acceptance for publication in PHN, or affect the editorial process in any way.


PDF proofs are sent to authors in order to make sure that the paper has been correctly set up in type. Only changes to errors induced by typesetting/copy-editing or typographical errors will be accepted. If corrected proofs are not received from authors within 7 days the paper may be published as it stands.


A PDF file of the paper will be supplied free of charge to the corresponding author of each paper, and offprints may be ordered on the order form sent with the proofs.


For resources about peer review, including guides on how to peer review journal articles and book proposals, in addition to information on ethics in peer review, OPRS blinding, and Publons, please visit our ‘Information for Peer Reviewers’ page.


Prospective authors may contact the Editorial Office directly at

More information about the journal, including recent issues, can be found at the PHN homepage here.