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£3M awarded to address diet-related health issues

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Six research projects looking to improve our understanding of the connection between diet and health have been awarded a share of £3M by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) in partnership with a consortium of 13 leading food and drink companies.

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 new ways to reduce levels of sodium in foods, resistant starches in pre-prepared food, the availability of nutrients in wheat, and the influence of iron on the microbiome.

DRINC is a cross-council programme and projects funded by DRINC reflect BBSRC’s research priorities, but also extend to areas of relevance for EPSRC, ESRC and MRC. The challenges build upon the research themes to: ‘improve our understanding of healthier diets’ and: ‘explore the benefits of bioactives in foods’.

Dr Karen Lewis, BBSRC Interim Executive Director, Innovation and Skills, said: “The projects recommended for funding through this round of the Diet and Health Research Industry Club will contribute to addressing issues relevant both to consumer health and the food and drink industry.

“We are pleased that the projects will investigate a diverse range of topics that explore the link between diet and health. The DRINC community is well placed to ensure the results of these studies can be translated into benefits for society.”

Dr Des Walsh, Head of Population and Systems Medicine at the MRC, said: “We are glad to be funding such important research that will provide us with a better understanding of the influence diet has on our health and better inform evidence-based policy.”

Professor Judy Buttriss, Director General of the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) and chair of the DRINC steering group, said: “I am delighted that another six world-class studies into diet, health and disease are to be supported in this round of the Diet and Health Research Industry Club funding. All 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.

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 industry is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, employing 400,000 people with an annual turnover of approximately £76Bn.

Projects recommended for funding from the 2015 round of DRINC:

Principal investigator Research organisation Title
Andrews, Simon C University of Reading The relationship between dietary iron and the gut microbiota. Can dietary iron regime be exploited to improve health?
Berry, Sarah Elizabeth King's College London The health impact of industrial interesterification of dietary fats
Fisk, Ian Denis The University of Nottingham Reducing sodium in the UK diet through food processing and ingredient design
Robertson, Margaret Denise University of Surrey Resistant starch production and glucose release from pre-prepared chilled food; the SPUD Project
Sharp, Paul Anthony King's College London Increasing micronutrient bioavailability from wheat
Yaqoob, Parveen University of Reading Effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on the generation and functional activities of microparticles



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 £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. 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.

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