£4M of research to investigate diet and health has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council with the backing of 15 food and drink companies.
The six projects respond to challenges that enable the food and drink industry to meet the needs of UK consumers. Scientists proposed research that will improve our understanding of food choice and eating behaviours, contribute to the design of foods that maintain and improve health, and explore how food processing can be optimised to deliver healthier foods.
Among the projects are studies investigating how better nutrition can slow down or prevent osteoarthritis, how dietary fibre can be used to lower cholesterol and how small behavioural 'nudges' can support people seeking to consume fewer calories and control their weight (full list below).
The funding is provided through the Diet and Health Research Industry Club (DRINC), a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) led collaboration with 15 food and drink companies, with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).
Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC Executive Director, Innovation and Skills, said: "The relationship between our diets and health is vitally important to every individual, to society as a whole and to the UK economy.
"This research from the Diet and Health Research Industry Club has exciting potential to meet the needs of UK consumers and deliver real health, economic and social benefits. It is an excellent example of Research Councils and industry working together to address critical challenges."
Professor Judy Buttriss, Director General of the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) and chair of the DRINC steering group, said: "I am delighted that six world-class studies into aspects of diet, health and disease are to be supported in the new round of Diet and Health Research Industry Club funding.
"All six have the potential to produce important results that could deliver real benefit to the health and wellbeing of consumers in the UK, and around the world."
BBSRC and MRC will together fund 90% of the six projects, with the remaining 10% coming from industry partners.
These six are the first projects funded in the second stage of DRINC. The first stage of the Club allocated £15M for high quality diet and health research between 2007-2010. An independent evaluation in 2011 recommended DRINC's continuation to contribute to the UK's strength in diet and health research, which underpins the needs of the food and drink industry. The companies in this industry form the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employ 3.7 million people, and account for around 7% of UK GDP.
In total the second phase of DRINC will fund £10M of research in three calls. The second call opened on 12 May 2014 with at least £3M available.