Many people with eating disorders suffer from severe malnutrition, which can lead to muscle atrophy and decreased ability to break down foods during mastication. Biologically, this decreases their ability to consume mechanically challenging foods and absorb calories/nutrients from food. Socially, this prohibits them from taking part in social events, like holidays, where specialized foods are consumed, making them feel further ostracized because of the eating disorder.
In the UK, once an individual with an eating disorder no longer needs to be hospitalised, they are considered "cured" by the National Health Service (NHS) and no longer receive any medical help to aid in their recovery. There is therefore no system to help people with eating disorders reduce the effects of muscle atrophy.
For this project, the postdoc will be conducting human biomechanics experiments to investigate the effects of chronic malnutrition on food item breakdown during mastication. Working with a physiotherapist, psychiatrists, and engineers, they will then help create a system to aid users to build up their masticatory muscles, allowing them to consume foods previously inaccessible/difficult to consume.
If you have any questions about the post, please contact Dr Michael Berthaume at [email protected]
This is an Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) funded project.
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