The Food Trials Laboratory services in research examine the relationship between dietary intake and health/disease with a particular emphasis on the metabolic syndrome (obesity, type II diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes mellitus). It is closely linked with the Illawarra Area Health Diabetes Service, and the Nutrition Program of the School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences. Studies focus on functional foods, the efficacy and acceptability of dietary interventions and the role of nutrition professionals in influencing dietary change. Diet history, food frequency and dietary recall techniques are used and the results interpreted by experts to confirm dietary intakes. Knowledge of diet background is essential and modulation of regular diet is targeted to reach desired intervention profiles. Research to date has focussed on manipulating dietary macronutrients and assessing the efficacy of nutrient targets, whole foods and whole diet patterns.
- Networked computer banks with mainframe and PC-based statistical and nutrient analysis software.
- Dietary survey instruments, food models, scales.
- Kitchen facilities.
- Interview, Consulting and Meal testing facilities.
Methods employed include:
- Assessment of nutrient intake through computer analysis of reported intakes.
- Dietary modelling to achieve targets.
- Assessment of anthropometric clinical and biochemical data.
- Study Designs
- Randomised controlled clinical trials (eg comparing foods with different combinations of ingredients) parallel and crossover designs.
- Meal studies.
- Short and long term interventions.
Projects have included:
- Cross sectional surveys linking inadequate dietary polyunsaturated fats to the development of gestational diabetes mellitus.
- Clinical interventions involving the manipulation of dietary fatty acids by dietary modelling and the inclusion of key foods of interest.
- Critical reviews identifying opportunities for developing products with an ideal nutrient mix to support metabolic fitness.