The €6m EU NeuroFAST project, which involves scientists from seven countries, began in April and runs until 2015.
Part of its aim is to explore the effects of macronutrients on food intake, food choices and food preference and the activation of higher brain centres, particularly those involved in reward.
NIZO's role is to design and produce 'model' foods for short-term human clinical studies, which will be performed at the University of Cambridge, Dr Rianne Ruijschop, project manager sensory reward and satiety solutions, told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
"We are interested to know what specific product properties determine food intake, choices, preference and reward.
"By selectively modifying, substituting, removing, or microencapsulating their components, we will be able to test the reward value of sensory properties, metabolic effects, physico-chemical structure, and nutrient composition [in the model foods]."
The most and/or least rewarding variants to emerge from behavioural screening will be made available to the other partners in the consortium for subsequent testing, she added. “First results from the initial screen of model foods as a supplement to control diet are expected in 18 months to two years."
Food companies keen participate in NeuroFAST are "welcome to contact us", she said.
By linking the properties of foods to biological, cultural, sociological and psychological aspects, the NeuroFAST consortium should help researchers understand why people eat too much, she said. "Based on the findings, new foods can be engineered that will help to combat overeating."
The other groups in the consortium will study the processes connected with the addiction system in the brain and look for answers as to why people abuse food or eat due to anxiety and stress, she added.
"In our food-grade processing centre we will make the test products that the other partners in the consortium will use for their studies. Based on the outcomes of the studies, NIZO will be able to work, together with industry, on new foods and food concepts that help people to control their energy uptake."
Companies interested in participating can contact Dr Ruijschop at Evnaar.Ehvwfpubc@avmb.ay