Dr Barbara Engel

Senior Teaching Fellow in Nutrition and Dietetics
+44 (0)1483 686397
33 AY 03


University roles and responsibilities

  • Programme Leader for BSc (Hons) Nutrition and Dietetics

    Affiliations and memberships

    Health and Care Professions Council
    Registered Dietitian
    British Dietetic Association
    Renal Nutrition Group
    Member of the Postgraduate Education Committee
    Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust
    Honorary contact providing dietetic clinics

    Research grants

    FSA (2008): Awarded grant (N05R0018) £240,000Development of a dose-responsive biological marker for carbohydrate intake based on metabolomics and machine learning.Dr J Lodge, Prof G Frost, Prof J Draper, Dr B Engel, Dr M Beckman

    British Renal Society (2007): £22,500A multi-centre trial to assess whether increased dietary fibre intake reduces laxative requirement in PD patients. This project has obtained Portfolio status.D Sutton, B Engel, R Davies, D Kariyawasam, S Perry, S Kennedy

    Kings Fund Grant (1996) for pilot project 'Setting up a diet and exercise programme for Renal Transplant Patients': £5000

    Royal London Hospital Research and Development (1997-1999): £20,000 to continue work on 'Diet and exercise programme for Renal Transplant Patients'

    • Renal disease (MSc project supervisor; development and evaluation of dietary information for renal patients from different ethnic groups)
    • Liver disease (MSc project supervisor; evaluation of Nutrition Assessment Score for patients with liver disease)
    • Measuring and monitoring nutritional status in chronically ill people: renal disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes
    • Designing intervention trails in order to develop guidelines of best practice for dietitians
    • Public health: I have supervised final year projects promoting healthy eating in Transplant patients, nursery and primary schools
    • Inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and the effects of pre and probiotics on bowel health

    My publications


    Engel, B., Davies, S. (2009) Renal Nutrition: chapter in A Practical Manual of Renal Medicine: Nephrology, Dialysis & Transplantation (Editor: Kar Neng Lai) (World Scientific).

    Engel, B. (2008) Renal Nutrition: chapter 11, pages 315-362 in Renal Nursing: 3rd Edition (Editor: Thomas, N.) (Elsevier).

    Engel, B. (2006) Renal Nursing: chapter on Renal Nutrition (Elsevier).

    Engel, B. with co-author Bartram, J. (2006) Oxford Handbook of Nutrition: chapter on Renal Nutrition.

    Engel, B., Davies, S. et al. (2004) Longitudinal measurements of total body water and body composition in healthy volunteers by online breath deuterium measurement and other near-subject methods. International Journal of Body Composition 4(3):99-106.

    Asghar R.B., Green S., Engel B., Davies S.J. (2004) Relationship of demographic, dietary, and clinical factors to the hydration status of patients on peritoneal dialysis. Peritoneal Dialysis International 24(3):231-9.

    Smith D., Engel B. et al. (2002) Comparative measurements of total body water in healthy volunteers by on-line breath deuterium measurement and other near-subject methods. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 76(6):1295-1301.

    Engel, B. (2003) Nutritional Management of Diabetic Renal Transplant Recipients in Nutritional Management of Diabetes (Frost, G. et al.) (J. Wiley and Sons).

    Nutritional Management of Renal Disorders. Encyclopaedia of Food Science, Food Technology and Nutrition. Academic Press. Updated and revised edition in print 2002.

    Toigo, G., Aparicio, M., Attman, P.O., Cano, N., Ciancaruso, B., Engel, B. et al. (2000) Expert Working Group report on nutrition in adult patients with renal insufficiency (ESPEN Guidelines) Clinical Nutrition 19(3):197-207

    Griffiths, A., Engel, B. (2001) Nutritional assessment and supplementation in patients with ESRD. British Journal of Renal Medicine 6(3):21-24.

    Engel, B., James, G., Singh, S., Vennegoor, M. (1999) Setting Standards and achieving optimum nutritional status RNG Working Party (Winner of Elizabeth Washington Award - British Dietetic Association)

    Engel, B. (1996) Renal Dietitians - Setting standards in Care. British Journal of Renal Medicine 1(2):21-23.

    Engel, B., Kon, S.P., Raftery, M.J. (1995) Identification of Malnutrition in Hamodialysis Patients. Journal of Renal Nutrition 5(2):62-66.


    End stage renal disease (ESRD) is associated with several physiological and metabolic changes which together cause poor health and impair patients’ quality of life. Anaemia is one of the most common metabolic consequences of renal failure and is highly prevalent among ESRD patients. Renal anaemia has a significant negative impact not only on patients’ health outcomes but also poses a heavy economic burden on the health system due to the high cost of treatment. Interactions between nutrition, anaemia status or/and response to anaemia therapies have been suggested. This programme of work aimed to investigate anaemia and nutritional status (including body composition) among haemodialysis (HD) patients and to study how nutrition status and body composition modify patients’ anaemia status and their response to the hormone erythropoietin (EPO). The first two sections of this project were cross-sectional studies conducted to characterise the health status of patients. Firstly, health outcomes were compared between the UK (n = 101) and Tanzanian (n = 96) HD patients after which a more in depth study was conducted in Tanzania only (n = 77). These are presented in chapter 2 and 3 respectively. Both studies showed that Tanzanian HD patients had increased risk of low haemoglobin (Hb) levels, inadequate nutrition and inflammation. The findings showed that body fat and muscle mass were significantly and positively associated with Hb and EPO response. These investigations were then extended to the UK via recruitment and assessment of a cohort of UK adults HD patients on EPO treatment (n = 41). The UK study was conducted longitudinally and included additional markers of anaemia and nutritional status to further assess the relationship previously observed and in an attempt to uncover the mechanisms involved. The findings showed that longitudinally, body fat, significantly and positively influenced Hb concentration independent of EPO type and gender. Equally, there was a positive association between leptin hormone and Hb concentrations, suggesting a potential link and possible mechanism for the observed association between body fat and Hb levels. Finally, building on this work, an exercise intervention of low intensity (walking + intradialytic resistance training) was adopted and conducted as a randomized controlled pilot and feasibility study. The aims were to investigate if such an intervention was feasible and acceptable to patients and staff and capable of inducing favourable changes in patients’ body composition (body fat and muscle), and if so, how any such changes would modify patients response to EPO and their Hb status. The eight week study was unable to achieve significant changes in body composition or iron markers. However, there was a slight improvement in exercise performance and lower body strength assessed through the sit to stand test. To our knowledge, the low intensity exercise protocol used, combining walking + intradialytic resistance training, has not been previously tested in the dialysis setting and offers an acceptable intervention for further research. This programme of work has demonstrated that good nutrition helps improve the EPO response and Hb levels of HD patients. A flexible and low intensity exercise programme involving walking and intradialytic resistance training is feasible and practical in the presence of a physiotherapist. However eight weeks of low intensity exercise is not sufficient to induce changes in body composition or EPO response in HD patients but may help improve their physical functioning and so warrants further investigation as a more cost effective alternative to cycle-based interventions.
    Barbara Engel, P Lee, L Bottle, P Cardew, S A Lanham-new (2008)Impact of Ethnicity and Season on Body Composition: Results from the Vitamin D, Food Intake, Nutrition and Exposure to Sunlight in Southern England (D-FINES) Study, In: Proceedings of the Nutrition Society67E322 Cambridge University Press
    The principal objectives of the D-FINES study are to compare vitamin D status, food intake, bone health indices and sunlight exposure in Caucasian and Asian women living in Southern England. It is known that in women both muscle and fat mass influence whole-body BMD(1) and the aim of the present subsidiary study was to examine for differences in body composition and compare the relationship between body composition components in Asian and Caucasian women. Measurements of body composition were undertaken in seventy-two Asian and 227 Caucasian women in autumn–winter (A/W) with a follow-up assessment in spring–summer (S/S) by dual X-ray absorptiometry (QDR-4500; Hologic Inc., Bedford, MA, USA). Measures of whole-body bone mineral density (BMD), whole-body bone mineral content (BMC), fat mass and lean mass were undertaken. Regional as well as total measurements were available.