< Our Themes

Theme 2 – Plant Foods and Health

We will deliver translation projects on the impact of plant-based foods on human health, and interventions to increase the affordability, availability, purchase and consumption of plant-based foods

Lead:

Professor Ian M Clark

 

Deputy Lead:

Associate Professor Stefan Penczynski

 

 

Overview

The 2019 Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems report (Willett W et al., Lancet, 2019) highlights that a planetary move towards more plant rich diets, would prevent 11 million adult death per years (a 19-24% reduction).  This agrees with the 2017 Global Burden of Disease Study which also attributes 255 million disability-adjusted life years to dietary factors (GBD 2017 Diet Collaborators).  Norwich is world leading in plant foods, plant bioactives and health e.g. in uncovering roles for dietary flavonoids on cardio-metabolic and cognitive health (e.g. Jennings et al., 2020), the metabolic engineering of tomatoes to improve nutritional composition e.g. (Butelli et al., 2008) and the impact of sales and marketing strategies on food purchasing behaviours. There is also currently the ongoing Wellcome Trust-funded EDESIA: Plants, Food and Health: a cross-disciplinary PhD programme from Crop to Clinic, which addresses our understanding of the mechanisms by which a diet rich in plant foods can impact upon health and disease.

 

Key focus

We have a broad focus, in e.g. metabolic engineering to enhance nutrition or disease prevention; plant foods and the microbiome; plant foods and the prevention or treatment of chronic disease; grains and dietary carbohydrate quality; food systems – from farm to fork

 

Key aims

We will build on our current expertise to deliver impact. This will include translation projects around the impact of plant-based foods on human health, and interventions and strategies which focus on food systems approaches to increase the affordability, availability, purchase and consumption of plant-based foods. This will directly deliver Strategic Objective 2 of the National Food Strategy (launched in July 2021) to reduce diet related inequality and Recommendation 7 to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in low income communities.  Diet is also embedded into the NHS Long Term Plan.