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Brief Published: 13 Feb 2015

Cravings: Can Your Food Control You?

Cravings: Can Your Food Control You?

Opened yesterday at London's Science Museum, the exhibition Cravings: Can Your Food Control You? explores how appetites and cravings develop.

With 62% of adults in the UK classed as overweight, according to the UK's Health and Social Care Information Centre, the exhibition plays an important role in helping individuals understand the body's relationship with food, and how cravings can be controlled.

It predominantly explores how the 'gut' brain – neurones embedded in the gut wall – communicates with the brain to regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. If this communication is interrupted or altered – for instance, by a person eating large quantities of food very quickly – they will remain unsatisfied and consume more food.

The exhibition examines scientific developments which might be used to trick the 'gut' brain into thinking that it's full in a bid to reduce cravings and aid weight loss.

The show also explores the relationship between the material, shape and texture of cutlery, and how this affects the taste of food. For example, a textured spoon can emulate freshness, while a double-sided spoon mimics the curving action of the tongue when we eat sweet foods.

Speaking at the exhibition, Andreas Fabian, a senior lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University and a product designer specialising in cutlery, explained: "The way food is arranged has an enormous impact on the perception of taste. Our current tableware almost takes away the pleasure [of eating]. It should be about temperature, form and colour."

Scientific investigations into the ways in which scent, texture and colour impact the eating experience are influencing the ways that brands, restaurants and the packaging industry develop products. For example, Fabian said, an ice-cream brand could package its product with an orange spoon to enhance the perception of sweetness. This would allow the sugar content of the product to be reduced, making it a more appealing option for health-conscious consumers.

The exhibition runs until early next year.

For more on sensory food, see Colour-Coded Dining, British Airways' Sensory Menu, Cutlery Impacts Taste and Sonic Wine Bar.