Award-winning Oxford Brookes professor hosts UK's 1st international functional food conference

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Nutrition experts meet in Oxford this week for the UK's first-ever international functional food conference - hosted by Professor Jeya Henry.

Nutrition experts meet in Oxford this week for the UK’s first-ever international functional food conference – hosted by Professor Jeya Henry.

Functional foods include products that have health-boosting properties on top of their nutritional value. Palm oil, for example, can help fight degenerative diseases.

Central themes of the two-day event will include the definition and regulation of functional foods and consumer protection.

The conference has a speaker line-up of some of the world’s leading experts on functional foods and has attracted more than 200 scientists from 31 different countries.

Prof Henry is the Director of the Functional Food Centre and Head of Food Science and Nutrition at Oxford Brookes. His research interests include the management and treatment of childhood obesity, the development of high energy food for refugees and the best diets for weight loss.

Prof Henry received two awards recently. Princess Anne presented him with the prestigious British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) award for his outstanding contribution to the field of food, nutrition and health (as pictured). He was also awarded the 2010 Rank Prize Award.

He set up the country’s only dedicated Functional Food Centre at Oxford Brookes in February 2009 to scientifically assess the role of certain ingredients in health and well-being.

“We are trying to enhance health from naturally available food ingredients as opposed to pharmaceuticals,” explains Prof Henry. “In 10 years’ time, instead of going to the bathroom cabinet we’ll go to the kitchen cabinet.”

At a time of growing interest in nutrition, shoppers are often faced with misinformation about the health-boosting properties of certain foods and Professor Henry and his team test the properties of ingredients to help consumers make informed food choices.

“What we are trying to do is focus research on foods with properties there is strong evidence for. There are a lot of hyped claims around some ingredients. Therefore it’s important there is support for robust scientific studies. We want consumers to buy things which have merit.”

His conference talk will look at the observation that certain people are unable to meet their nutrient requirements from consuming their normal diet alone.

Prof Henry will be joined by other leading international experts in nutrition, including scientists from the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research and the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals in Canada.

Oxford Brookes Vice Chancellor Janet Beer will be opening the conference.