Food Nutrition and Health

 

Information on our research into Applied Nutrition - including Nutrition Sciences, Public Health Nutrition and Dietetics Research.

Within the Departments of Biological Sciences and Clinical Sciences applied nutrition is delivered by a core of specialist staff who form a cognate interdisciplinary teaching and research group in nutritional sciences and dietetics. This group is directly responsible for the teaching and provision of research-based dissertations in five core Nutrition programmes:

Presently this activity is being expanded with the development of an MSc in Diabetes management and an MSc in International Public Health Nutrition for launch in the autumn of 2009. In addition, the Human Sciences Group is also responsible for contributing to the delivery of teaching and research in other related programmes, such as the BSc Hon Biology, BSc in Biomedical Sciences, the FdSc in Health Care Sciences, and the MSc in Weight Management (Department of Clinical Sciences).

Our staff are also involved in a wide range of independent research activities (see Independent Research Activity below).


Undergraduate and Postgraduate research

All students in the BSc and MSc programmes are offered to conduct a dissertation project directly under the supervision of our most research-active staff, or alternatively under co-supervision of academic staff and professional staff working off-campus. This includes staff in the health care setting (e.g. NHS), the food industry, the biotech industry and non-profit organisations. This enables the successful development of a number of research lines with an inter-disciplinary and international nature. 

In addition, a number of PhD dissertations are being supervised in Nutrition-related areas including nutrition communication; food safety; quality assurance; food biophysics; and nutrient-related molecular signalling.


Independent Research Activity

The Nutritional Sciences group has recently expanded its research base, with some of its members successfully contributing to the latest research assessment exercise (RAE 2008). The group counts with three specialty units at the moment:

  • Chester Centre for Stress Research (CCSR)
  • Environmental Quality and Food Safety Research Unit (EQFS
  • Centre for Science Communication


Chester Centre for Stress Research

The CCSR is an interdisciplinary grouping linking the research interests of the Faculty of Applied and Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Social Care and a number of external bodies. The aim of CCSR is to stimulate interdisciplinary research and perform research of international significance.

In the nutritional aspect, CCSR focuses on the study of nutrients and their impact on cellular stress, both at the molecular and the physiological level. All aspects of the biology of stress are covered, from the cell to the whole organism. These are mainly studied in clinical settings, for example for Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, leukaemia; or using cell-based model systems in mechanistic studies (molecular biology laboratory).

For more information see the Chester Centre for Stress Research.


EQFS Research Unit

The EQFS Research Unit deals with all aspects of food authentication and food quality, including analyses for the presence of allergens, and with public understanding of nutrition. The relationship between environmental quality and food safety is a main focus of this unit but this is currently expanding to cover broader aspects of dietary evaluation.

An important aspect of the EQFS Research Unit of interest for students and staff is its considerable amount of knowledge and transfer activity business. At present the Unit engages with a number of food manufacturing industries and food safety/quality industries providing state-of-the-art projects for both undergraduate and post-graduate students interested in aspects of food safety such as allergens, organic foods and food authentication (e.g. antioxidant content).

For more information see the EQFS Unit overview 2009.


Centre for Science Communication

The Centre for Science Communication is dedicated to promoting public interest and participation in science; delivering outreach activities to schools and the local community; and offering training and research opportunities in scientific communication.

The Editorial Office of the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, and the Journal of Food and Agricultural Immunology are both hosted within the Centre for Science Communication.

Staff at the CSC supervise nutrition-related projects such as nutrition habits and their effects on the wider population (e.g. "Are fish and chips sustainable in the current climate change?"); understanding of food communication systems (e.g. food labels); and factors influencing food choice (e.g. purchase of organic produce).

For more details, please see the Centre for Science Communication.


Areas of Research

Current research activities in the Nutritional Sciences and Dietetics group are spread amongst four main areas. Examples of project titles and topics covered are shown below. Many of these topics are multidisciplinary in nature, contributing to the body of research-informed teaching, scholarly activity and knowledge transfer activity at the University of Chester.

Area 1: Assay development and food authentication

  • Food authentication by ELISA and RT-PCR
  • Detection and characterisation of food contaminants, food allergens and food additives
  • Development and optimisation of, immunodiagnostic tests, antibody production systems and biomolecule purification
  • Development and optimisation of immunoassays for the detection of soy proteins in processed foods

 

Area 2: Food and nutrition

  • Antioxidant properties of bee honey - effects on oral health 
  • Antioxidant properties of vitamins 
  • Antioxidant properties of red wine and green tea
  • Biomolecular ligands for food safety and for quality assurance
  • Biomolecular ligands for fungal toxins
  • Biophysical properties of low saturated fat products
  • Nutritional composition and probiotic activity in yogurts
  • Nutritional assessment in athletes
  • Appetite status and portion size estimation in healthy adults


Area 3: Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition 

  • Nutritional value of foods in the clinical environment
  • Approaches to weight management - understanding influences on food portion choice
  • Approaches to diabetes management and education - effectiveness of carbohydrate counting in clinical settings
  • In-service evaluation - the use of screening tools for malnutrition
  • Influence of feed rate on the risk of developing refeeding syndrome in critically ill patients


Area 4: Public Health Nutrition

  • Adherence to school meal standards
  • Evaluation of community programmes including weight management and diabetes education
  • Determinants of food choice such as the role of food labelling, cost, socio-economic status, and gender, in food selection
  • Behaviour change and lifestyle modification, both at the individual and community level
  • Nutrition trends and sustainable development 
  • Nutrition and the South Asian community
  • Breast Cancer Protection