Master student in food science wanted for project on biometrics and face reading at Nofima AS

Background:

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for various diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. They are not only considered a problem in high-income countries, but also in middle and low-income countries. Research to better understand drivers of food intake contributing to overweight is important to support public health, especially for those in risk of developing food-related lifestyle diseases. Palatability is considered one of the main drivers of food intake and might contribute to overeating and obesity. Expectations of satiety have been increasingly investigated because of the interest in how they, along with liking, can modulate portion-size selection.

Designing palatable foods with satiating capacity that help to reduce intake could be a good measurement against overeating. However, this is a complex area, as consumers react differently to different reformulation measures. It is assumed that people have different strategies to manage food in mouth; these individual differences should play a role both on consumer perception of the products and their expectations of liking or satiety. For instance, different protein sources are perceived as more or less filling by different consumers (e.g. meat vs fish or vs legumes), or some consumers are more driven by taste, while others by health attitudes when decided their portion size. Previous research has shown complex textures (dense, hard, more consistent or with particles) could reduce consumption (reducing portion sizes), but not all consumers react the same to textural changes. One reason can be how they eat (eating behaviour), some eat quicker, some prefer harder textures or softer ones.

Better understanding of how sensory perception (taste, texture), eating behaviour (eating rate, number or sips, chewing, etc) and preferences are related to specific product properties (texture, taste, composition) and satiety perception, can be used to promote healthier habits and fight overeating.

Objective

The objective of this work will be to assess the application of Face Reading as a tool to better understand eating behaviour and preferences of products with different formulation with controlled texture modifications, aimed to reduce intake (e.g. breads with different textures).

Methods

  • Sensory description with a trained panel (e.g. quantitative descriptive analysis and temporal description) and simultaneous measurement of eating behaviour via face reading
  • Consumer perception measurements (liking, satiety perception) and (self) video recording of eating. Evaluation of the use of self-video recording for analysing emotions and eating behaviour via face reading.
  • Face reading will be utilised to measure expressions related to emotions (happy, sad, angry, surprised, scared, and disgusted) and for the analysis of behaviour that is related to eating (taking a bite or taking a sip, chewing, chew motion).
  • Correlation of face-reading measurements to liking, satiety and product sensory description.

Expected outcomes

In this master’s thesis, the student will be able to try and learn state-of-the-art biometrics technology (face reading) applied to sensory and consumer science. Also, they would be able to design, carry out and interpret sensory and consumer testing that will allow to draw conclusions on the application of this technology.

Research outcomes: better understanding of how biometrics (face reading) could be utilised as indirect measurement for studying preferences and eating behaviour, as related to sensory product perception.

The thesis can be written in English or Norwegian.

Supervisors

The practical work will be carried out at the department of sensory and consumer science at Nofima in Ås.

Prof. Paula Varela-Tomasco: https://nofima.no/person/paula-varela-tomasco/

Mads Erling Pedersen: https://nofima.no/person/mads-erling-pedersen/

References

Nguyen, Q. C., Wahlgren, M. B., Almli, V. L., & Varela, P. (2017). Understanding the role of dynamic texture perception in consumers’ expectations of satiety and satiation. A case study on barley bread. Food quality and preference, 62, 218-226.

Varela, P., Mosca, A. C., Nguyen, Q. C., McEwan, J. A., & Berget, I. (2021). Individual differences underlying food intake and liking in semisolid foods. Food Quality and Preference, 87, 104023.

De Wijk, R. A., Kaneko, D., Dijksterhuis, G. B., Van Zoggel, M., Schiona, I., Visalli, M., & Zandstra, E. H. (2019). Food perception and emotion measured over time in-lab and in-home. Food Quality and Preference, 75, 170-178.

https://www.noldus.com/facereader

https://www.noldus.com/facereader/facial-expression-analysis

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