Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes University

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Functional Food Centre at
Oxford Brookes University
Established 2009
Type Research Centre
Director Prof Jeya Henry
Dr Helen Lightowler
Location Oxford, England
Former names Nutrition and Food Research Group
Affiliations Oxford Brookes University
Website Official website
Functional Food Centre, Oxford Brookes University

Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes University is the UK’s first Research Centre dedicated to Functional Foods.


The Functional Food Centre opened in early 2009,[1][2] and builds on the services and expertise previously provided by the Nutrition and Food Research Group at Oxford Brookes University.[3] This group had been in existence since 1984 and renamed itself in 2009 to draw on the knowledge and expertise of its new staff. The Functional Food Centre is led by its Director - Professor Jeya Henry. Professor Henry is a consultant to the World Health Organisation, UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations on all aspects relating to nutrition assessment, food safety and nutrient requirements.[4] He is also Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.[5]

Areas of research[edit]

The new Functional Food Centre undertakes a range of research combining scientific knowledge with the practical needs of the diverse food industry. The centre is known internationally for its work on Glycaemic Index and is the largest testing centre in Europe.[6] The centre provides customer-focused research and consultancy services to the food and nutrition industry, United Nations and government agencies in the UK and overseas. The research and consultancy portfolio not only concentrate on the scientific characteristics of food and nutrition, but also integrate both the science and social aspects of food. The centre also focuses on areas such as satiety, dietary interventions, female nutrition and aging.[4] These include:

• Metabolic testing: Glycaemic Index (GI); glycaemic response; energy and glucose metabolism; weight loss and body weight regulation; cholesterol and triglyceride measurements; 24-hour monitoring of blood glucose and blood pressure

• Antioxidant assays: bioaccessibility and bioavailability; antioxidant profiles, stability and antioxidant capacity

• Other food assays: quantification and isolation of individual food components; plant-based bioactives (e.g. ß-glucans and other pre-biotics)

• Cognitive testing: effects on mood and cognitive function (e.g. reaction time, concentration, memory, stress tolerance)

• Food intake studies: effects of food components on food intake, appetite and satiety

• Sensory testing: discrimination testing; measurement of sensory threshold; descriptive analysis; texture evaluation; consumer testing

• Horizon scanning: predict and provide strategic insights into future nutrition and food trends using knowledge gained over the past 25 years

• Human intervention trials: strictly controlled experiments on human volunteers for one day to several weeks to longer-term studies; randomised controlled trials

• Product development and optimisation: provide leadership to the food industry to encourage innovation and the promotion of health and wealth creation.


Some of the facilities that are established in the Functional Food Centre are:[7]

• Analytical laboratories for biochemical assays including:

- Blood glucose

- Blood lipids (total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides)

- Hormones (including insulin, progesterone, oestrogen etc.)

- Other in-vitro parameters, e.g. antioxidants and their metabolites

• Continuous glucose monitoring equipment including 72 hour blood glucose monitoring

• Laboratory for glycaemic index testing

• Equipment for measuring basal metabolic rate, indirect calorimetry, body composition and energy expenditure. These include a BodPod and bioelectrical impedance analysis equipment

• Methodology to analyse antioxidants in plant systems and bodily fluid

• Instruments to measure food texture and rheological properties

• Product development kitchen

• Instruments for rapid detection of rancidity

• Electron microscopy of food structure

• Bioavailability and bioaccessibility of nutrients

• In vitro digestibility of biological carbohydrate

• Instruments for measurement of mastication

• Laboratory for the chemical analysis of foods

• Sensory booths for sensory and computer-based cognitive testing

• Continuous blood pressure and heart rate measuring equipment

• Exercise and sports testing equipment (treadmills, ergometers, portable calorimeters; accerlerometers, SenseWear)


Evidence based science lies at the heart of the Functional Food Centre services, ensuring quality research with maximised potential for clear answers to the research questions. The Functional Food Centre is a research centre run with business-minded management, but with skilled academics carrying out the actual research. The centre offers research and consultancy services to the food industry, the United Nations and various Government agencies [8]


External links[edit]