New study into public views on diet and health research published

10/06/05

A study of the public's priorities for the funding of research into what people eat and how it affects their health will be published later today (12 October). The study, conducted by MORI Social Research Institute, explores any differences between the agendas of the public and research funders at a time when the health implications of the food that we consume have a very high profile. The study was commissioned by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Institute of Food Research (IFR), who will consider the results as part of their strategic planning for future funding.

The study examined questions such as should research tackle existing diet and health problems or concentrate resources on research to maintain a health diet and prevent health problems in the first place? Should 'blue skies' research that may be many years from producing an outcome be publicly funded or would the money be better spent on educating people about healthy eating?

The outcomes of the study will help BBSRC, which invests over 300M of public money in life science research each year, to determine how best to prioritise funding. It is part of a move by the Research Council to have as wide an input as possible into its strategic decision making. The views of the public will be considered alongside those from academia and industry. IFR, sponsored by BBSRC, will look to the results of the study to help develop the strategic vision that will underpin its research agenda for the next decade.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, Chief Executive of BBSRC, said, "BBSRC is committed to wide stakeholder input to inform our decision-making. Projects such as this, investigating public attitudes towards research, are becoming an intrinsic part of how we develop our strategies. Diet and health is a key issue at the moment and will be into the future; the results of this study will be extremely helpful to BBSRC and IFR."

Dr Gene Rowe, Steering Group Chair, said, "The results from this research have shown that the public have their own specific and highly sensible priorities for what should and should not be funded in the area of diet and health. It is important that those funding research acknowledge and recognise these perspectives and take them into account when thinking about future funding strategies."

Michele Corrado, Head of Medicine and Science Research at MORI Social Research Institute, said " We are delighted that BBSRC and IFR have put a finger on the pulse of public opinion at this important time to examine public priorities for research funding in the area of diet and health. The results are most illuminating and provide evidence of public thinking and priorities at a time when discussion about the health implications of consumption of food, and concern about consequences, are probably greater than they have ever been".

Source: Eurekalert & others

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