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Health Channel 4

Channel 4 launches first online food science trials


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

November 3, 2011 | 3 min read

Channel 4 has launched the first online food science trials as part of new eight part factual series, The Food Hospital.

The programme, which aims on Tuesdays at 8pm, examines the science behind using food as medicine, and is asking viewers to take part in scientific studies conducted in consultation with a British university and a research institution.

Kate Quilton, Channel 4 specialist factual multiplatform commissioner, said: “Users will be able to participate in nationwide trials we've developed with academics to deepen understanding on how certain foods directly affect the body. And we're aiming to offer the public a massive online resource that will help them take more control over their own bodies and wellbeing.”

On air, in experiments following the latest scientific evidence, patients suffering from a range of medical conditions are invited to attend The Food Hospital where they are prescribed specific food treatment programmes to find out if their health problems can be alleviated or cured by the food they eat. Using social media and the online site to encourage participation, The Food Hospital online tries to engage users to make science accessible and relevant to people's lives. Instead of calling people into clinics or hospitals, The Food Hospital is now helping the experts reach out to these people remotely through the website, Facebook and its app.

The Big Food Trials are carried out in conjunction with The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at University of Aberdeen and sleep specialists Sleepio, who are interested in experimenting with new ways of collecting data for their research.

Dr Baukje de Roos from The Rowett Institute, who will assess whether dark chocolate can modify blood pressure and whether almonds can modify plasma cholesterol levels, said: “These trials through the online site and Facebook give us a very effective way of gathering information, but also of controlling the compliance of the participating subjects.

“This provides a great opportunity to create a very large dataset which will allow us to study people in their own environment and hopefully enable us to reveal subtle beneficial effects, if any, which are sometimes more difficult to find in smaller studies.”

Health Channel 4

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