Somerville student Matthew Kerr (2011, Biochemistry) has been awarded the 2015 Henry Kitchener Prize by the Institute for Food, Brain and Behaviour (IFBB).

Matthew received the £1,000 award (for the 18-30 category) on the basis of an essay he wrote answering the question ‘How has the modern diet contributed to an increase in mental ill health?’

The IFBB is a national charity which for two decades has made evidence-based policy recommendations in the area of neuroscience and nutrition.

“I really wasn’t expecting to win, and thoroughly enjoyed researching the link between diet and mental health,” said Matthew. “It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between what’s become accepted due to anecdotal evidence, and what’s been found in rigorous scientific studies. I was shocked by studies that showed how closely linked diet is to all forms of mental health, from increasing attention spans, to decreasing violent behaviour!”

The Henry Kitchener Essay Writing Prize was launched in 2014 in memory of Henry, 3rd Earl Kitchener to explore how scientific research in nutrition and neuroscience might help solve practical problems. Matthew was presented the award by Lady Emma Fellowes, Lord Kitchener’s niece.

“We were delighted to receive such high quality entries into the Henry Kitchener Prize,” said Richard Marsh, Chief Executive of the IFBB. “Matthew’s essay truly captured the key dietary factors that have led to the increase in mental ill-health. This essay was clear and concise, coving a wide range of topics and we feel it is certainly a very deserving winner.”

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