2017: John C. Peters, PhD
Dr. Peter's is the tenth recipient of the ASN McCormick Science Institute Research Award. One of Dr. Peters’ main interests is investigating ways to improve diet quality and eating behavior to improve health and quality of life. This has involved understanding the physiological and behavioral regulation of food intake and preference. His early work investigated the link between dietary composition and brain neurotransmitter synthesis in rats as one mechanism by which food may directly influence eating behavior (Am J Physiol 252:R901-R911, 1987; Physiol Behav 27:287-298, 1981). Later, Dr. Peters worked at the Procter and Gamble Company for 26 years as a research scientist and then research manager doing basic science and clinical trials exploring ways to apply scientific knowledge and food technology to products and services that can help people achieve better health. Much of this work focused on finding ways to reduce dietary fat, saturated fat and calories while preserving food liking. His team developed novel reduced calorie triglycerides like Caprenin, composed of medium chain and very long chain fatty acids and demonstrated a calorie value in humans of only 5 kcal/g yet preserved functional properties and liking (Int J Toxicol 10:357-367, 1991). He studied the effects of a zero calorie fat substitute, olestra, on control of food intake and found that there is no fat-specific appetite such that fat replacement can reduce fat and saturated fat while preserving liking (J Nutrition 127:1719S-1728S, 1997; Am J Clin Nutr 76:928-34, 2002). This work highlighted the importance of flavor and mouthfeel as key elements of food liking. More recently, he has focused on exploring strategies for helping people meet the dietary guidelines (e.g., reducing saturated fat and sugar) by using herbs and spices to improve the liking of healthy foods (Appetite 79:183-8, 2014; J Food Sci 79(10):S2117-26, 2014). This strategy is important as it supports current consumer trends to seek foods with natural ingredients and fewer additives.