The Food Service and Nutrition research team, originally established in 1993, as part of Bournemouth University’s International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research (ICTHR) has undertaken a wide range of research studies for clients in this area, including work for hospitals, retirement homes, schools, prisons, as well as for the UK and USA armed forces. Many commercial organisations have also taken advantage of their internationally respected expertise and resources in this field of research.
The ICTHR research team is unique in that it combines a wealth of experience in both Food Service and Nutrition. Their experience in managing projects ranges from large-scale to those for SMEs. The studies undertaken for the armed forces have often been conducted under extreme environmental conditions. Other areas of recent research include investigations into enablers and barriers to the release of public health open resources for the University sector (PHORUS).
Improving Food Services and Nutrition in Public Service Sectors
The provision of a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet of an acceptable quality presents a challenge to food-service operators, particularly where they are the only or primary source of sustenance. Prisons are one such area and a major project for the Prison Service and, more recently, the National Audit Offices publication ‘Serving Time: Prisoner Diet and Exercise’ involved collecting and interpreting dietary intake data from prisons. This was to establish whether the meals offered to prisoners allowed them to choose healthy, nutritionally balanced diets and the extent to which they did so. This report received broad coverage by the media.
Patient meals are an integral part of hospital treatment, so the provision and consumption of a balanced diet is essential to aid recovery. Our team investigated a number of issues, including food wastage and how it might be reduced, alternative cost-effective feeding strategies, such as making a food choice at the time of consumption to help improve patients food intake and increase their nutritional status. Meals also involve more than the provision of food and in hospital they are mainly a solitary event. We investigated how intake might change when patients ate together by monitoring the dietary intake of patients who consumed their meals either in bed, at the side of the bed or in the presence of others. This provided invaluable information for the service providers to optimise their approach.
Diet and Health and Obesity
Our research on obesity investigated the perceptions of portion size, knowledge of energy requirements and how these vary by Body Mass Index (BMI) and gender. The importance of consuming a healthy, balanced diet, particularly among children, has been well publicised. The team explored whether school children (aged 5-11 years) could recognise common fruit and vegetables, assessed their acceptability and gained a broad understanding of children’s perceptions of ‘healthy eating.’
Other research recently undertaken by the team includes an investigation into changes in students’ dietary habits when they leave home to start their university course. Overseas students are a more familiar part of the UK university scene these days and so the investigation included an examination of their reluctance to try new foods and how they adapt and changed their diets while in the UK. Team members have published numerous articles in this area of research and are actively involved on editorial boards of the leading journals in this field.