The Warwick Medical School, in partnership with the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, provided scientific advice and equipment for a Channel 4 documentary series aimed at helping people with obesity-related health problems in the UK.
The Human Metabolism Research Unit (HMRU), which includes two full-body calorimeters and a 'BOD POD' for measuring body composition, opened it's doors to television cameras, with Dr Thomas Barbee on hand to offer his expert opinion. The series, 'Embarassing Fat Bodies' from Maverick Television, aired every Monday at 9pm on Channel 4 from 07 - 28 January.
The HMRU is a dedicated research-unit run by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) in partnership with Warwick Medical School. It provides a fundamental understanding of the nature of metabolism and metabolic disorders, and enables research to uncover new relationships between diet composition, life-style and long-term health in the population at large.
The Whole Body Calorimeter allows the carbon dioxide produced and oxygen consumed by the volunteer to be very accurately measured; these quantities make it possible to determine a subject’s energy expenditure. When this is combined with additional measurements (for example, urine samples) researchers can determine the type of macronutrients (e.g. fat, carbohydrates or protein) that are used to create that energy. Knowledge of an individual’s energy expenditure in such detail allows new avenues of metabolic research with the potential to develop new treatments and drugs.
The BOD POD is a non-invasive device which uses a technique called air displacement plethysmography that, combined with highly accurate scales, allows for a detailed analysis of body mass, fat mass and body volume.
You can find out more about the work of the HMRU in this short, introductory video: