Dietetics, Human Nutrition and Health projects

More information on Dietetics, Human Nutrition and Health projects

Dietetic Practice and the Nutritional Management of Disease in Childhood and Adults

Dietetics is the branch of science concerned with the diet and its effects on health, especially with the practical application of a scientific understanding of nutrition. Our research into Dietetic Practice includes all aspects of dietetics relating to both adults and children. 

We want to ensure that what dietitians do in practice is based on good sound evidence and that dietary manipulations designed to promote good health and treat disease do just that. 

We are also very interested in exploring the skills and attitudes dietitians need to develop to work effectively and how dietitians' working practices can be most effectively organised to deliver an efficient service.

Certain diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, obesity and various diseases of the gut (and many more) require people to adapt their diet in order to manage and control the disease.

We are interested in understanding the best ways to implement such dietary changes and importantly how best to support people to make such changes. Additionally, we want to study what changes are needed for particular conditions.

Current projects include:

  • Scoping the future profession to inform the development of a dietetic workforce development strategy 
  • Prohealth@home: Randomised controlled trial testing professional support for individuals at risk of diabetes via a web-based App.
  • Prioritisation of Referrals for Dietetic Acute Adult Services
  • Exploring students’ and qualified professionals’ attitudes towards developing communication and behaviour change skills, and testing how best to implement effective training and skill development in practice.

Projects our postgraduate or undergraduate students are working on include.

  • To what extent does a hospital menu provide the energy and protein recommended by the British Dietetic Association’s Nutrition and Hydration Digest (2012)?
  • Exploring the importance of ‘sustainability principles’ for dietetic practice and how to streamline these into the dietetic curriculum – a scoping review of the possibilities.
  • Functional Imagery as a personalised eHealth intervention for weight loss.
  • Exploring attitudes and skills, conflicting advice and commonalities in dental and dietetic students: how can these two professions can work more closely together?
  • Dietary counselling of children with food allergy.
  • An investigation into the dietary intake, physical activity and body composition of girls aged 8–11 years in Saudia Arabia.
  • Obesity in Saudi adolescent girls (16–18 years): development of an educational programme for improvement of food choice in the home - PhD student.

Public Health Nutrition

Public health nutrition is concerned with the promotion and maintenance of nutrition related health and wellbeing of populations through the organised efforts and informed choices of society. 

The focus is on health improvement, maintenance of wellness and primary prevention, through influencing education, environmental and political policy, as well as food and nutrition systems.

We are particularly interested in design, implementation and evaluation of small and large scale public health nutrition interventions. Also of interest is how interventions can complement broader inequality strategies and wider food system issues.

A particular focus within the team is on how to motivate and engage individuals and communities in food activities that promote improved wellbeing and lifestyles.

Projects include:

  • Evaluation of the “Thrive Plymouth” health inequalities strategy
  • Food as a Lifestyle Motivator: Using participatory creative methods to engage individuals and communities to enhance health, well-being and life-skills

Nutrition and ageing

As humans age their physical and mental health changes, and often these changes make older adults more at risk of nutritional problems, including under-nutrition. 

We are interested in learning how nutrition influences ageing, how optimal nutrition can be maintained during older age and how nutritional deficiencies that occur can be best treated.

Projects include:

  • Meeting the nutritional needs of people living in their own homes with dementia.
  • Sarcopenia is the progressive loss of lean muscle mass, strength and function with ageing, leading to disability and frailty – what can we learn from the UK BioBank Data?
  • An observational study to investigate the impact of nutrition risk status on patient-centred outcomes and utilisation of health and social care resources in older people living in the community.
  • Healthy Living and Presbyopia
  • Advanced glycation end-products, oxidative stress and glaucoma

Nutrition and Metabolism

Within the body, food is broken down into individual nutrients that are used in different metabolic pathways. In order to understand how to promote optimal nutritional health we need to understand how each nutrient is used by the body and for what purpose. It is also important to establish the interaction between nutrition and physical activity to promote optimal health.

We have a particular interest within our group in the metabolism of iron and nitrate. We have several on-going studies examining the effects of these nutrients in human health, and different ways to measure and assess their metabolic pathways. In the case of nitrate metabolism, we are also interested in the interaction between diet, the oral microbiome, physical activity and health.

Projects include:

  • The effect of the addition of Igepal to the TNBSA glycation assay.
  • The effect of vegetarian diets on nitrate/nitrite bioavailability and its role on blood pressure and resting metabolic rate.
  • The effect of statins medication on non-transferrin-bound iron (NTBI) in type 2 diabetes patients – a pilot study.
  • The effect of glucose incubation on red blood cell mechanical and osmotic strength.
  • The effect of acute and chronic physical exercise on nitrate/nitrite bioavailability: elucidating mechanisms that promote cardiovascular health.