As part of its management of the Drummond Memorial Fund, BNF is providing two grants in 2019, each of £5000, to help newly-appointed university lecturers and research fellows in human nutrition to undertake the pilot work needed to generate data that can be used as the basis of a more substantial grant application. We are pleased to announce that the recipients of the 2019 BNF Drummond Pump Priming Grants are Dr David Clayton, Lecturer in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, Nottingham Trent University and Dr Rachel Gibson, Lecturer in Nutrition & Dietetics at King’s College London. Details of the recipients and their projects can be found below:

Dr David Clayton

Whilst theoretically simple, the solution to reducing obesity prevalence remains elusive. Traditional dieting advice is to make small, daily reductions in calorie intake, but this has proven unsuccessful for the majority of people, with persistent hunger and tedious calorie counting contributing to poor adherence. Intermittent fasting is an alternative dieting method, which restricts food intake to specific times of the day. Initially designed to reduce the amount of food consumed, new research suggests that when food is consumed might also be an important consideration for health. For example, consuming all food in the latter part of the day (i.e. skipping breakfast) appears to reduce the amount consumed, but also reduces physical activity and impairs the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose (sugar) after subsequent meals. In contrast, consuming all food in the early part of the day (i.e. skipping dinner) might improve blood glucose regulation, but the effect on food consumption (energy intake) and physical activity (energy expenditure), is unknown. Understanding how behaviour affects physiology, and vice-versa, is important for determining the long-term effects of dietary practises on metabolic health, under real life (non-laboratory) conditions.   

This study will compare how timing of eating and fasting periods affect eating behaviour, physical activity, appetite and blood glucose regulation. As one of the first studies to directly compare morning versus evening fasting, this research will help optimise how intermittent fasting diets can be used effectively to improve health and weight management.  

“The funding provided by the BNF Drummond Pump Priming Award will be crucial for generating high-quality preliminary data to support larger-scale research grant applications, which will explore how feeding/fasting patterns interact with circadian biology to influence metabolic health and weight management. I am very grateful to the Drummond Memorial Fund for supporting me as an early career researcher to conduct this important research”

Dr Rachel Gibson

As we move towards a 24-hour economy and the need for 24-7 healthcare provision, the prevalence of night shift work is increasing.  However, research suggests that exposure to nightwork is detrimental to health.  Studies have shown an increased risk of developing type two diabetes and heart disease in employees working shift work compared to employees only working during the day. 

Night work causes complex changes in our physiology through circadian misalignment (basically ‘messing up’ our body clock) and alters our behaviours including activity, sleep and eating patterns.  Night workers, compared to day workers, are more likely to eat a less healthful diet (characterised by lower intakes of fibre, fruit and vegetables and higher intakes of sugar sweetened beverages).  Additionally, night workers tend to consume a high proportion of meals and snacks during night-time hours.  The importance of meal timing is becoming increasingly recognised in the field of nutritional research, with emerging awareness of ‘chrono-nutrition’ - the interaction between the nutrients we eat and time of eating.  To date evidence suggests that eating during the night is more detrimental to our health than eating during the daytime.  Limited research has investigated diet quality modification during nightwork.  Where such research exists, investigations have been conducted in a laboratory setting in non-shift workers.

Through the SHIFT-eat study I will test if consuming a healthful diet (in line with UK healthy eating recommendations) compared to an unhealthful diet (a typical night worker diet) during night work improves markers of health (blood glucose and heart rate variability) in free-living shift-working employees.

“Given the importance to the economy of a healthy aging workforce, and the increase in night shift work prevalence, it is important to establish if diet modification can reduce the health disparities between night and day working employees.  I am very grateful for the support provided by the Drummond Pump Priming Award to undertake this research project.  This preliminary data will be used to support future funding applications to develop effective nutritional interventions for night workers and contribute to the evidence base for improving the health of this essential workforce.”