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Howard, Alan Norman, 1929-2020 (nutritional researcher )



Alan Howard was a nutritional researcher, entrepreneur and philanthropist with research interests in atherosclerosis (thickening of arteries associated with coronary heart disease), obesity, and nutritional research related to eye (macular degeneration) and brain (Alzheimer’s) health. His inventions and patents related to very low-calorie diets were commercialised as the Cambridge diet and enabled him to establish the Howard Foundation to fund biomedical research and Downing College, Cambridge.

Howard studied natural sciences and obtained a PhD in immunology at Downing College, Cambridge. He trained further as a nutritionist at the Dunn Nutritional Laboratory, Cambridge and continued his research in the departments of Pathology (1960-1973), and Medicine (1973-1984), concluding his academic career as a College Lecturer in Nutritional Research (1983-1982).

His commercial endeavours began in the latter half of the 1960s with a high-protein Cambridge Formula Loaf manufactured by Spillers. From 1973-80 Howard ran a lipid’s clinic at Addenbrookes and developed with Ian Baird at Middlesex Hopspital a low calorie diet formula designed for morbidly obese patients, which was used in outpatients clinics, then became available without prescription. Howard then worked with a representative of the Dutch Company Organan to commercialise this diet with patents granted in 1977, licensed to a Californian Company, Cambridge Plan International, who launched it in the US as the Cambridge diet in 1980, marketing and selling the product by mail order and then network marketing. Two years later, Howard established the Howard Foundation with his son Jon and in 1984 they established with Alan’s brother, Roger, Cambridge Manufacturing Company Limited and other commercial entities owned by the Howard Foundation. CPI filed for administration in the US in 1983 and in 1986 a Howard Foundation Company bought out CPI international rights, with the ‘Cambridge Diet’ remaining a separate entity in the US. Throughout the second half of the 1980s the diet was sold by direct marketing and distributors, with the UK headquarters and export function residing in the manufacturing company in Corby, Northants by the 2000s. In 2005 the remaining businesses were sold by a management buyout and the Cambridge Diet continues as the 1: 1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan. Howard’s work on the diet led to several publications including The Cambridge Diet a Manual for Health Professionals (MIT Press). He was active the scientific community becoming the Secretary of the Obesity Association in 1967 (later The Obesity Society of Great Britain and now the Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO) and organised several international scientific conferences on obesity and very low-calorie diets. The Foundation funded the COAG trace elements laboratory at Papworth Hospital 1991-2000 related to heart disease and in the 1990s worked with researchers Florida International University to develop a commercial nutritional product to prevent age-related macular degeneration. From 2009 Howard collaborated with the Macular Pigment Research Group at the Waterford Institute, Ireland and then became interested in nutritional aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

 Fonds — Multiple Containers

Records of Alan Howard and the Howard Foundation

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10391
Scope and Contents

The records include patents, correspondence, marketing materials, reports, publications, conference programmes, Howard Foundation records, press clippings, photographs, school notebooks, texts of speeches, CVs and a few items of personal memorabilia. Overall, the records document Howard’s biography, scientific training and research, commercialisation activities, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.

Dates: 1950-2019