British research club to target diet and health

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

A new partnership is set to deepen scientific understanding of the link between diet and health, and help food companies address obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.

The partnership, which will fund £4 million of research projects, brings together three research councils and 15 food and drink companies.

The Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC) is managed and led by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The initial £4 million will be divided amongst nine projects. A second round of projects worth another £3M will be funded in 2009.

"The projects funded by this partnership represent both world-class science, with some of the best diet and health researchers in the UK involved, and relevant science that we think will make a real, beneficial difference to the way we eat and the health of people in the UK,”​ said Dr Alistair Penman, chair of the DRINC awarding panel.

Three avenues of research

The club will fund research projects in three areas, including how foods can be developed to help fight obesity, understanding the processes that affect our decisions about what food we eat and the portion sizes we take, and investigating the benefits to health of various nutrients found in foods - including fruits, vegetables, cocoa, wine and tea - and how best such nutrients can be efficiently delivered to where they are needed in the body.

"The funding of these projects by DRINC represents an open and transparent collaboration between publicly funded science and the food industry. This work will ensure that the food industry can access the best of UK science to address some of the most important health issues faced by the UK today,”​ said Dr Doug Yarrow, BBSRC's director of corporate science.

Research highlights

Research at the University of Birmingham is aimed at developing mechanisms for keeping the stomach fuller for longer and increasing satiety signals (feeling of fullness). The research could lead to new foods to tackle obesity by telling the brain to stop eating sooner and preventing snacking between meals.

Researchers at the University of Bristol will examine the psychology behind eating, and investigate how filling we think a food will be before we decide how much of it to eat.

Also of note, will be research carried out at the University of Reading that will examine how flavonols in cocoa are digested and how they have a beneficial effect on human cells.

The nine research projects receiving the initial £4 million include:

Drivers of eating behaviour during chronic overconsumption.Understanding decisions about portion size: The key to acceptable foods that reduce energy intake?Defining the gut to brain signalling mechanisms underlying responses to nutrientsSelf structuring foods with slow burn for control of satietyBioactive alginates and obesityDietary activators of antioxidant response element-linked gene expression for good vascular healthThe impact of cocoa processing on flavanol content, absorption and health effectsEnhancing delivery of minerals using multifunctional carriersThe effect of dietary bioactive compounds on skin health in humans in vivo

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