Human Ingestive Behaviour (Kissileff) Laboratory


The Kissileff laboratory has two broad aims

  1. To study the biological and psychological processes that control food intake and energy balance across the life span. Specifically studies consider the interplay between biological and psychological factors that contribute to appetite regulation (factors which start and terminate meals), food choice, and preference.
  2. To apply this knowledge to understand the nature and the causes of appetite dys-regulation, which lead to chronic over or under consumption of food, for example obesity, and to assess interventions attempting to reverse such disorders.

Research Kitchen

This is a large, fully fitted catering standard kitchen with a separate food preparation area, weigh back, and disposal areas. It also has extensive food storage facilities (including refrigeration and freezer storage) required to conduct large-scale studies. The Kissileff Laboratory kitchen has sufficient capacity to allow the consecutive running of around 20 studies at any one time.

Main Testing Rooms

The main testing rooms contain 12 individual subject booths. Each booth is spacious enough for study participants to be offered a large choice of food items at any given test meal. The booths are enclosed to allow privacy, and computers can be installed in each to present computerized questionnaires, cognitive tests, or to assess changes in appetite. The booth set up allows up to 24 subjects to be fed all their main meals (breakfast, lunch, morning and/or afternoon snacks, and evening meals) within the laboratory during any test day.

These booths are ideal for the assessment of the effect of pharmacological treatments on appetite and food intake, or of the assessment of various nutritional manipulations (which can take the form of a within meal manipulation or be given separately in the form of a pre-load). The effect of any such manipulation can then be assessed in terms of daily and within meal energy intake, macronutrient intake (e.g. dietary fat), food choice, ratings of taste/palatability, and subjective ratings of appetite (changes in subjective feelings of hunger, satiety etc.) across the day. This set up, for instance, would be ideal for the assessment of potential appetite suppressing or enhancing compounds with clinical potential (phase 1 and 2 type clinical studies).

Second Testing Room

This testing room contains five Universal Eating Monitors.  The Universal Eating Monitor continually measures the food eaten by a study participant producing individual cumulative intake curves. This equipment is used to precisely measure the microstructure of individual meals, allowing us to study the operation of processes of hunger and satiation within the meal. The Universal Eating Monitor can be used to quantify the effect of differing foods (varying in composition) and the role of peripheral satiety factors in the development of satiety. It can also be used to study any differences in the operation of these within meal processes between various types of consumers and weight groups.

Assessment Room

This room contains a weighing scales, tape measures and a stadiometer (allowing the assessment of Body Mass Index and Waist Hip Ratio). Equipment is available to measure various health indicators such as blood pressure and body fat mass (by bioelectrical impedance or by calipers). The room is designed for the general assessment and medical screening of study participants.

Office & Reception

The laboratory has an office designed for study administration, participant interviewing and assessment. Outside the laboratory is a separate seated participant waiting area.

Bioassay Laboratory

This laboratory is equipped for the preparation and storage of biological samples (blood, urine, saliva, faecal matter and skin and cheek swabs) with centrifuges and freezers (at -20ºC and -80ºC temperatures). This allows the analysis of biomarkers that relate to appetite such as hormones and metabolites.  Please visit the Bioassay Laboratory facility page.

Biological Assessment Laboratory

This laboratory is one of a small number of clinical facilities on the main campus equipped for the collection of biological samples (blood, urine, saliva, faecal matter and skin and cheek swabs). Please visit the Biological Assessment Laboratory facility page.

The laboratory is also equipped with a state-of-the-art iDXA scanner which measures three key components of body structure; bone mass, lean tissue mass, and fatty tissue mass. These body composition measurements determine body fat distribution – an important risk factor in a variety of serious diseases. Please visit the Body Composition Analysis Laboratory facility page.

Social Eating Laboratory

Typically, meals are eaten with at least one other person, and so the social eating laboratory was set up to permit the study of food intake in a social context. Previous studies have shown that food intake is enhanced by the presence of familiar others, whilst the presence of strangers appears to reduce food intake to levels comparable with eating alone. This laboratory offers the opportunity to film meals and to assess factors which might contribute to the social enhancement of eating.

The laboratory is also being used for studies into the impact of maternal feeding practices, including fruit and vegetable consumption during lactation, on the development of infant food preferences.

Media Analysis Suite

The media analysis suite houses a range of recording equipment with the capacity to record satellite television throughout Europe. These facilities are used for the systematic monitoring of television advertisements and specifically to examine the effect of advertising on child eating behaviour.

Participant Lounge

This room provides a comfortable environment for participants to utilise between meal service in the testing rooms. For convenience it interconnects with testing rooms and the biological assessment and social eating laboratories. It contains a library, internet facilities and audio and visual entertainment centres.

Field work

For much of our work on children’s eating patterns, food choice and intake, studies are conducted in the field and not in the laboratory. Working in schools with permission from the headteachers, provides an opportunity to conduct research in an environment which is comfortable and familiar to the children.