A new £1.6 million innovation hub led by the University of Southampton has been tasked with transforming the nutritional quality of food and drink sold in the UK. It will bring together leading researchers, industry experts and other stakeholders to develop more healthy eating options for consumers.
The new Diet and Health Innovation Hub is one of six across the country totalling almost £15 million of investment from the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in partnership with the Medical Research Council (MRC), Innovate UK and DEFRA.
The Southampton-led hub is a collaboration with the Universities of Cambridge, Leeds and Reading and Quadram Institute Biosciences in Norwich. It will foster industry collaboration and generate new research evidence that will inform healthy diets and the development of healthier foods and beverages.
The hub will focus on the role of good nutrition in promoting early-life development, supporting body and brain function and resilience from adolescence into adulthood, and contributing to healthy ageing in later life.
Professor of Nutritional Immunology Philip Calder, one of the academics leading the new hub, said: “Obesity is a major challenge in our society, but so is undernutrition and many people have nutrient gaps in their diet. These can be addressed by helping people to make healthier dietary choices including providing better quality food and beverages that are affordable and available.
“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. 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.”
Mark Spencer, Minister of State for Food, Farming and Fisheries, said: “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.
“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.”