Report from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior Conference 2019

Outside, the sun was shining and the Utrecht train station was bustling with travellers. Inside, the Jaarbeurs stadium was a hive of excitement as hundreds of SSIB delegates gathered for a drinks reception to kick off the annual 5-day SSIB (Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior) conference. Every year I look forward to attending the SSIB conference, typically held in stunning destinations across the UK, Europe, and the USA. This year was no exception, with the conference held in the beautiful city of Utrecht, Netherlands. I had the pleasure to attend the conference and represent the LEAP (Livestock, Environment and People) team by presenting some of my recent work on environmental sustainability labelling. I also serve as a board member on the SSIB New Investigator Advisory Board, so part of my role during the conference was to promote events aimed at the early career researchers.

The poster that I presented, entitled “Determining the effects of environmental sustainability labels on the selection, purchase, or consumption of foods: a systematic review protocol” was well received by SSIB members who, across a variety of disciplines, conduct research on food and drink consumption.

It was great to be able to share the preliminary results with attendees, receive feedback on and brainstorm ideas for future eco-labelling research while also discussing potential collaborations with researchers from other countries.

Throughout the week there was huge amounts of fascinating science on offer, with SSIB members presenting nearly 100 oral presentations and 130 posters, meaning at times it was difficult to decide which of the parallel sessions to attend. I found the topics “Feeding circuits in humans and animal models”, “Health benefits of time-restricted feeding”, “Insulin, glucose and diabetes” and “Counteracting desire in the obesogenic environment” particularly interesting!

The conference programme gave plenty of time for exploring the city. During breaks, I took time to process all of my new learnings while enjoying the medieval churches and picturesque canals in old town Utrecht. Networking with other SSIB attendees over a coffee was particularly enjoyable while watching boat and canoe tours on the canals and enjoying stroopwafel in the terraces.


However, my favourite excursion was to the Dutch Museum Speelklok, where cheerful live music from centuries-old self-playing musical instruments uplifted everyone’s spirits.

At the end of the conference and before the evening banquet, everyone gathered for the annual SSIB awards. This year, the Hoebel Prize for Creativity went to one of the LEAP research collaborators, Professor Suzanne Higgs. Suzanne and her team at the University of Birmingham have been instrumental in helping us to refine social norm messages through focus groups and surveys. These messages aim to promote the purchase of plant-based products in restaurant settings with one of the LEAP food industry partners. 

As always, the SSIB conference was a fruitful experience and I look forward to presenting more LEAP research at the next SSIB meeting in Portland, Oregon in 2020.


A report from LEAP's Dr Christina Potter