The University of Southampton and its researchers have been selected to spearhead one of six Diet and Innovation Hubs across the UK, hoping to find ways to improve the nutritional quality of food and beverages.
The UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) along with the Medical Research Council (MRC), Innovate UK and DEFRA are pouring nearly £15 million into the initiative that will aim to also get Brits to be more cognizant of making healthy choices.
“This award is a fantastic opportunity for us to work with our partner institutions and with industry to find solutions that help people to improve their health through what they eat and drink,” said Professor of Nutritional Immunology Philip Calder. “We also want to make sure that we foster the next generation of researchers, so parts of our award will be used specifically to support early-career researchers.”
Southampton’s hub is part of a collaborative with the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Reading and the Quadram Institute Biosciences in Norwich.
The group says the primary goals will be on promotion of “early-life development, supporting body and brain function and resilience from adolescence into adulthood.” They also want to see how it help individuals throughout their later years and how smart food choices can help limit unhealthy outcomes.
“Obesity is a major challenge in our society, but so is undernutrition and many people have nutrient gaps in their diet,” Calder said.
Mark Spencer, Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, expressed the potential positives of the hub.
“I am delighted that scientists and experts can now come together in these new innovation hubs to convene the latest science around obesity and healthy eating,” he said. “Together they can work to close the knowledge gaps between current dietary trends and obesity, whilst improving our understanding of the relationship between food and health. Supporting this research is part of our commitment in the food strategy to boost healthier, more sustainable and accessible diets.”