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Six studies funded to improve our diets and health

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£3.7M of research to investigate diet and health has been funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in partnership with a consortium of 14 leading food and drink companies.

The funding will support six research projects to improve our understanding of the connection between diet and health. The outcomes of the projects will help to inform the development of new products by the food and drink industry that address diet-related health issues in the longer term.

Among the projects are studies that will explore novel ways to reduce levels of saturated fats, sugar and salt in foods, how to use environmental prompts to encourage healthy portion control and a comparison of the metabolisms of breast-fed and bottle-fed babies (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 partnership with 14 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: "Our health is closely linked to our diet and is important to us individually as well as to society and our economy as a whole.

“These Diet and Health Research Industry Club projects will conduct valuable research to address important challenges for industry and consumers that can be translated into real benefits for all.”

Professor Dr 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.

The six projects have been funded in the second call of the second phase of DRINC. The first phase of the Club allocated £15M to support high quality diet and health research between 2007-2010.

An independent evaluation in 2011 recommended the continuation of DRINC to maintain 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.

Projects funded in the second call of the second phase of DRINC

Principal Investigator Research Institution Project title Value
Prof. Christine Edwards University of Glasgow Manipulating the activity of the gut microbiota with fermentable carbohydrates to maximise the bioavailability of bioactive phenolic acids for health £807,463
Prof. Stephen Euston Heriot-Watt University Edible Oleogels for Reduction of Saturated Fat £497,680
Prof. Marion Hetherington University of Leeds Downsizing: using environmental prompts to understand healthy portion control and appropriate food servings in children, adolescents and caregivers £531,783
Dr Albert Koulman MRC Centre Cambridge The validation of biomarkers of metabolic efficacy in infant nutrition £686,533
Prof. Gary Williamson University of Leeds Improved glycaemic response and attenuated post-prandial sugar-induced endothelial dysfunction by polyphenol-rich foods £574,702
Dr Bettina Wolf University of Nottingham Programmed emulsions for reduced levels of salt or sugar in liquid and semi-liquid foods £597,115


Notes to editors

The DRINC industry partners are:

  • Campden BRI
  • Coca Cola
  • Danone Research
  • DuPont
  • Leatherhead Food Research
  • M&S
  • Mondelez International
  • Nabim
  • Nestle
  • PepsiCo
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Sugar Nutrition UK
  • Unilever
  • Waitrose

About MRC

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health.

Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed.

Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms.


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes.

Tags: bioeconomy food funding human health nutrition BBSRC press release