Diet, obesity and genes (DiOGenes)
Diet, obesity and genes (DiOGenes) is an innovative multi-disciplinary, multi-centre research project to advance understanding of how obesity can be prevented and treated from a dietary perspective. It integrates does so by integrating studies of dietary, genetic, physiological and psychological/behavioural factors.
The project team is made up of world-class centres in diet and health studies, epidemiology, dietary genomics and food technology. It also includes 3 major representatives of the food industry and 5 Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). The project will use the new knowledge generated to demonstrate prototypes of innovative products or advice regimes which will help susceptible individuals to avoid weight gain and re-gain, collaborating with implementers to facilitate commercialisation in the market place .
The University of Surrey leads the research on the psychosocial and behavioural factors associated with successful weight maintenance following weight loss in overweight/obese participants, including expectations, attitudes, beliefs, concerns and acceptability of diets. This includes research both in the European cohort trials and in separate UK studies.
University of Surrey researchers
Professor Monique Raats
Co-Director, Institute for Sustainability; Professor; Director of the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre
I am a founding Co-Director of the University's Institute for Sustainability, and director of the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health (FCBH) Research Centre. Together with the university’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, FCBH was awarded the prestigious 2017/2018 Queen’s Anniversary Prize. FCBH research domains include:
- food-related behaviour and policy interventions to achieve sustainable and healthy lifestyles;
- social, policy and ethical issues relevant to the grand societal challenges such as sustainability and obesity;
- study of food systems from the perspective of significant actors and stakeholders within the system; and
- methodologically advancing food consumer science through exploring novel data sources and methods of data linking.
I previously worked at the Institute of Food Research (now Quadram Institute), Health Education Authority and University of Oxford. My expertise is in the area of public health and behavioural nutrition research, gained on a variety of projects. My research is wide ranging both in terms of topics covered (e.g. food choice, policy development, food safety) and methodologies used (e.g. qualitative, quantitative, stakeholder consultation). I have also been involved in the evaluation of health promotion programmes and developing tools for use in nutrition education. To date I have published over 145 refereed papers, numerous non-refereed publications including 20 book chapters 20 book chapters and have edited two books ("The Psychology of Food Choice" (2006) and "Food for the Ag(e)ing Population" (1st edition 2009; 2nd edition 2016).
From 2011 until June 2018 I was a member of UK's Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) and also a member of the Subgroup on Maternal and Child Nutrition (SMCN) from 2012 until June 2018.
I am one of the founding members, member of the Board of Directors (2001-2006) and was secretary (2004-2006) of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. The society was set up to combine interests in diet and physical activity; and to stimulate, promote and advocate innovative research and policy in the area. The society now plays an important role in fostering excellence in research in this field through its annual meetings and journal called the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
Professor Richard Shepherd
Emeritus Professor of Psychology
Richard Shepherd is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology, having retired in August 2011. He obtained degrees in Natural Sciences from Cambridge and in Psychology from Cardiff and Southampton. He was a Research Fellow at the University of Surrey and then worked at the Institute of Food Research from 1982 to 1998, initially in Norwich and then in Reading, before joining the University of Surrey as a Reader.
He has carried out research on a range of issues related to the factors influencing food choice. In particular this has involved the development and application of social cognition models to food choice issues and the exploration of the factors influencing dietary change. He has also conducted research on the perception of risk and risk communication particularly in relation to food issues. He has published widely in all of these areas of research, including editing two books.
He has directed research funded by BBSRC, ESRC, MAFF, FSA, Wellcome Trust and industry, in addition to several collaborative European projects funded by the EU. He is a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. In the past Richard has been a member of the UK Food Standards Agency Social Science Research Committee, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Social Science Expert Advisory Group and the ESRC Grant Assessment Panel.
Dr Kath Hart
Senior Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics
Research dietitian with a passion for improving the management of under-researched clinical populations and for the collection of accurate and robust dietary data to classify nutritional status, evaluate interventions and develop guidelines.
Experienced teacher across all levels from undergraduate to Continuing Professional Development for practising Health Professionals passionate about the communication of up to date science and scientific methods.
Professor Christopher Fife-Schaw
Emeritus Professor of Psychology
Chris has research interests in the promotion of healthy behaviours, recovery from stroke, health claims for food products and methods of online deliberative engagement. He has secured research grants from ESRC, Sport England, EU, the Wellcome Trust and various UK government departments and is most recently PI on an RCT evaluating sports-oriented exercise programmes as an alternative to GP referral for gym-based exercise. He has extensive experience of supervising trainee clinical psychologists’ major research projects and an interest in statistical methods. In addition to numerous journal articles and conference proceedings he has published a textbook on research methods for psychologists. He is the former Director of the ESRC’s Southeast Doctoral Training Centre and was Chair of the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments until May 2022 when he retired.
Dr Bernadette Egan
Senior Research Fellow/Senior Adviser NIHR Research Design Service South-East/Acting Co-Chair University of Surrey Ethics CommitteeSee profile
Dr Lada Timotijevic
Associate Professor; Head of Department of Psychological Sciences; Deputy Director of the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre
Having completed my PhD in 2000 (University of Surrey) in the area of identity processes in the context of social and cross-cultural mobility, I have subsequently worked within advertising industry (J. Walter Thompson). I joined the Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre (FCBH) at the University of Surrey (Department of Psychology) in 2002, a multidisciplinary research centre which brings together skills and expertise from across the University in order to address research questions on food related policy, consumer behaviour and public health. Since my arrival, I have played an instrumental role in the success of the Research Centre, working on research projects of substantive theoretical and applied relevance. I work within the critical public health framework and my empirically-oriented work has focused on understanding the role and nature of public and stakeholder engagement and dialogue in policy and science, risk perception and governance, and science-policy interaction. Policy relevance is a key theme across my research projects, and my work is aimed at both understanding the processes of policy making, and contributing evidence on which to base policies. I am particularly interested in public health nutrition, sustainable diets and illness prevention.
- Dr Áine McConnon
- Prof Gary Frost
- Dr Michelle Gibbs
- Dr Stephen Whybrow
Research groups and centres
Our research is supported by research groups and centres of excellence.