Sheffield Hallam University is a major partner in a new food and diet innovation hub bringing together academics and industry experts to help improve population health through changes to the food system.

Experts in the University’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering are working alongside colleagues from Imperial College London, who are leading the project, the University of Surrey and food and beverage manufacturer PepsiCo as part of the new Innovation Hub.

The Hub brings together world-class leaders from academia, industry and civil society to look at the physical, economic, political and socio-cultural context in which people make their decisions about buying, preparing and consuming food, to make a significant change in our understanding of the relationship between food and health.

Professor Martin Howarth, Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering, said: “We a delighted to be working with Imperial College London and other partners as part of the new food and diet Innovation Hub.

“This research will extend the knowledge and understanding of how food, food ingredients and food processing impacts on health and diet and will benefit society both locally and across the UK. ”

It is one of six new hubs to be funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with support from DEFRA, Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

The Innovation Hubs represent an investment of almost £15m and will create a new Diet and Health Open Innovation Research Club (OIRC) to help build cross-sector collaborative networks to improve the UK’s capacity and capability and deliver world-class innovation around diet and health.

Poor diet has a huge impact on public health. As recently highlighted in the Government Food Strategy, there remains a major challenge in producing and encouraging the uptake of healthier, more nutritious food products in the UK.

The hubs will address shared barriers to innovation across the food and drink sector.

Food Minister Mark Spencer said: “I am delighted that scientists and experts can now come together in these new innovation hubs to convene the latest science around obesity and healthy eating.

“Together they can work to close the knowledge gaps between current dietary trends and obesity, whilst improving our understanding of the relationship between food and health.

“Supporting this research is part of our commitment in the Food Strategy to boost healthier, more sustainable and accessible diets.”