Major University food research projects
Researchers at the University of Liverpool are working across disciplines to tackle some of the world’s most pressing food systems issues.
Read more about some of our cutting edge research projects below.
Artificial sweeteners and weight loss
The University of Liverpool is running the largest ever investigation into artificially sweetened drinks and their effect on weight loss and weight maintenance.
Many people in the UK drink artificially sweetened drinks (such as diet cola or diet lemonade) on a daily basis, but their use is controversial. With the current emphasis on reducing sugar in the diet, artificially sweetened drinks provide a sugar free alternative to those who still wish to consume sweet drinks. While the benefits of drinking plenty of water are well understood, could drinking artificially sweetened drinks be just as effective when it comes to weight management, or do they promote the consumption of other sweet foods?
The Switch study aims to discover whether a range of water-based drinks or drinks with sweeteners (such as diet cola, diet lemonade or other similar drinks) influence weight loss and weight maintenance over a two year period. An investigation of their effects on appetite and food choice on this scale has never been undertaken. Understanding the effectiveness of artificially sweetened drinks will help shape best practice when it comes to weight management.
For more information about the study visit the SWITCH webpages.
Food system resilience
IKnowFood is a four year project that will take an interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder approach to developing a unifying understanding of ‘food system resilience’ using tools and methods to integrate the knowledge and perspectives of hitherto disparate food system actors.
Food system resilience is the ability of the system over time to learn, adapt and transform to cope at multiple levels with external and internal stresses and shocks in order to provide supplies of food that are economically, environmentally and nutritionally sustainable.
Systems of food production, trade and consumption are increasingly vulnerable to interconnected political, economic and ecological shocks and stresses associated with climate and environmental changes, shifts in farming practices, uneven power dynamics and consumer lifestyle changes.
Through integrating knowledge from both sciences and social sciences the aim of the project is to remove the significant disconnects between various actors in the global food system and enhance overall food system resilience. The aim of the project is to produce new datasets, information resources, appropriate technology tools for farmers, decision making tools for business and consumer mobile technologies all working to minimise trade-offs and secure complementarities.
IKnowFood aims to deepen our understanding of how to build resilience in the food systems by creating positive social and environmental change. The research team will work collaboratively to understand the obstacles to food system resilience and to develop practical tools to enable farmers, processors, manufacturers, retailers and consumers to better respond to increasing stresses and risks.
For more information about the IknowFood Project visit iknowfood.org.
Climate change and animal disease
ENHanCE is an Integrated Project designed to assess the effects of future climate change on the spread of disease through Europe and its impacts on human health and wellbeing.
Climate change is widely considered to be a major threat to human health and well-being via its effects on infectious diseases. But how realistic is this threat? Will most diseases respond to climate change, or just a few? Will there be a net increase in disease burden, or might as many diseases decline in impact as increase? Is it possible that the diseases that matter to us most, are the least likely to respond to climate change?
Answering these questions will help provide the knowledge-base required for policy makers to take necessary action to combat climate change, and that is what the ENHanCE project is all about.
The key aims of the project:
- The creation of a definitive database of all known pathogens of humans and livestock
- Improving methods for predicting the effects of climate/environment change on disease
- Designing a Decision Support Tool for determining a pathogen's 'impact' on human and animal health
- The creation of an atlas for stakeholders and agencies on future climate risks tailored for animal health in Western Europe.
For more information about ENHanCE visit the project webpages.
Novel food processing for regulating appetite
SATIN Project (SATiety Innovation)
SATIN is a European framework 7 project designed to develop foods that regulate appetite by reducing hunger, accelerating within meal satiation and enhancing between meal satiety.
The SATIN project involves seven SMEs, four industry and seven academic partners from nine European countries. The SATIN project employs novel food processing methods to modify food structure to produce functional foods for weight management.
SATIN is a unique project. SATIN’s goal is to produce and help commercialise finished products whose biomarkers of appetite and nutrient bioavailability will be well characterised. This is achieved through optimising innovation and integrating advanced technologies and requires a new collaboration between SMEs, Industry and Academia. SATIN will remain a platform for product development after current funding ends and to this end SATIN will have a clear legacy.
The key goal of SATIN is to develop products ready to commercialise with validated health claims and proven consumer benefits. However, the notion of a diet containing satiety enhancing products being a legitimate approach to weight management will also be determined. SATIN will play an important contribution to the reformulation of the diet of European consumers to promote health. SATIN will also seek to educate consumers and other stakeholders about satiety to optimise the impact of outcomes.
For more information about the SATIN, visit the project webpages.