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University of Bayreuth, Press Release No. 087/2021 06. July 2021

In the focus of a smartphone lens: Professor at the University of Bayreuth examines eating behaviour with modern technology

Prof. Dr. Laura König is using an app to see the bigger picture in her research on eating behaviour. What healthy food means is obvious – yet how incentives for people to eat healthier food actually arise is what the scientist at the University of Bayreuth is investigating. Prof. Dr. König has found a home for her research and teaching on nutritional psychology at the new campus of the University of Bayreuth in Kulmbach in the Nuremberg metropolitan region. She is the new face of the campaign 'Platz für InnovationskünstlerInnen der Metropolregion' (Space for Innovation Artists of the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region).

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Prof. Dr. König has found a home for her research and teaching on nutritional psychology at the new campus of the University of Bayreuth in Kulmbach in the Nuremberg metropolitan region.

Creamy vanilla ice cream, waffles, and hot cherries in an elaborately decorated mosaic bowl. Next to it, a pink Tupperware container with microwaved leftovers from the night before. The junior professor Laura König would love to sit right down at the table. Instead, the young woman stands in front of a large screen and looks at a multitude of photos. Because in order not to influence the behaviour of the study participants, the psychologist does not sit next to them at the table, but uses a faithful companion to provide her with realistic insights into the everyday eating behaviour of her subjects: the smartphone.

Meals - photographed on a table, balancing on knees, eaten on the move: "I want to see it all," says the scientist, "because it gives me information about more than just the composition of the food." Anyone who photographs a Tupperware container at their desk has pre-cooked at home themselves. Someone holding a sausage roll in their hand has just grabbed a quick meaty bite at the butcher’s - perhaps because that’s all the time they have. "Behaviour is influenced by many things: situation, time, environment, politics. So we realise through these photos that we have many starting points in targeting change of behaviour. The goal is to give people strategies that work in different situations."

Laura König is a pioneering researcher at the new Faculty of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition & Health at the University of Bayreuth. Here, natural science perspectives are combined with modern concepts of economics, law, and social and behavioural sciences in a way that is unique in Germany. From autumn 2021, the Bachelor of Food & Health Sciences degree will be offered here, as well as the master's degree programmes in "Food Quality & Safety" and "Global Food, Nutrition & Health".

Moreover, research at the faculty founded in 2020 is decidedly multi-faceted and innovative. In addition to her smartphone-based studies, the young professor will also use a "fake food buffet" in the planned Kulmbach laboratory and special settings in the local supermarket as part of her research in the future. "There is probably no one strategy for a healthy diet. An interplay of many factors determines how we eat. And that's what we're exploring." Kulmbach, far to the north of the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region, is the ideal place for this in her eyes: "A whole new faculty is being created here, with unique courses of study and motivated young scientists and students - working in an atmosphere like this is wonderful!" And because Kulmbach has a long and storied food tradition, because artisanal and industrial food producers are located here, it is a particularly exciting environment for field research, reports König.

The "Room for Innovation Artists" series shines a light on people who are enthusiastic about technology and who have chosen the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region as the centre of their lives because of their willingness to innovate and seize excellent career prospects. Prof. Dr. Laura König is the sixth subject in the series. In the podcast on the art of innovation, the researcher provides even deeper insights into her work and tells us why the Nuremberg Metropolitan Region is an especially good place to conduct research and to teach.

Links: 

www.innovationskunst.de 
www.metropolregion.nuernberg.de
www.platzfuer.de
https://www.phn.uni-bayreuth.de/en/team/index.html
https://www.innovationskunst.de/podcasts  

Contact

Dr. Christa Standecker
Head of Metropolregion Nürnberg

Phone: +49 (0) 911 / 231 31 7 48
E-Mail: geschaeftsstelle@metropolregion.nuernberg.de
Theresienstraße 9, 90403 Nürnberg

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Anja-Maria Meister

PR Spokesperson University of Bayreuth

Phone: +49 (0) 921 / 55-5300
E-mail: anja.meister@uni-bayreuth.de