IFR recently celebrated its Heroes of Food Research –the volunteer participants in its dietary studies. Without this help from members of the public, we couldn’t carry out our research that is getting the very best evidence of the links between the food we eat and how it affects our health.
On the 10th February, we put on an exhibition in The Forum, Norwich, where we showcased some of our current studies and talked about what we found in previous ones. We engaged with over 300 people during the day, some spending over an hour looking at our exhibition and stands.
Visitors also got to try some of the foods we use in the studies, from Beneforté broccoli soups, to blood orange juice, even sweets designed to help collect saliva. And in the evening a series of talks detailed the results of our broccoli research, as well as more on how we design and carry out the studies, professionally and ethically.
We were also interested in finding out what motivates people to take part in our studies, or what might put them off. We are still collecting views if you would like to share your opinion, and we will use this information to refine future study plans.
In our dietary studies, participants are provided with foods to include in their diet over a period of weeks or months, and we then measure what effects this might have had. These studies are carried out by specially trained staff using purpose built facilities on the Norwich Research Park.
“The Heroes of Food Research Event attracted a lot of interest from a large number of people who visited the display and engaged in discussions with myself and other members of the team from IFR,” said Dr Paul Kroon. “I was very impressed with how well informed many of our visitors were about the vital role volunteers play in the important research we do, and delighted that so many people who were keen to become new Heroes of Food Research by signing up to our volunteers database.”
We have made some of the resources and information from our Heroes of Food Research Exhibition online at www.ifr.ac.uk/volunteer. As well as details of current and past studies, a video gives an insight into what happens during the trials.