Cravings: can your food control you?

The Science Museum in London is opening a new exhibition looking at what affects peoples’ appetites and enjoyment of food.

The Cravings exhibition

Source: Science Museum

The Cravings exhibition

The Cravings exhibition features 3D elements designed by Plaid, with graphics created by A+B Studio and illustrations by Ron Magnes.

Kin has worked on interactive elements for the exhibition, with animations by Guy Holbrow. The interactives include the “Cravings Commander” game – a digital quiz that looks at the ethical everyday challenges that cravings, appetite control and food regulation pose.

A selection of experimental utensils

Source: Science Museum

A selection of experimental utensils

The exhibition opens with the Taste section, which looks at the sensory clues that influence our appetites. This includes unconventional dining utensils using colour, shape and material to trick our sense of taste.

The exhibition also examines how neurons in the gut communicate with the brain to regulate appetite and trigger feelings of hunger of fullness. It explores the story of Molly Smith, who grew up without most of her intestines and never felt hunger or thirst. At the age of 16 she was given a life-saving intestinal transplant and felt food cravings for the first time.

Laboratory model of a human colon

Source: Science Museum

Laboratory model of a human colon

On display will be a working artificial gut developed by scientists at the University of Reading to show how gut bacteria react to different foods.

The interactive Cravings Commander game lets people approve or reject a series of policies – both fictional and real – and compare their attitudes to food regulation to other players.

The Cravings Commander quiz

Source: Science Museum

The Cravings Commander quiz

Alongside the exhibition, people are also invited to take part in an “neurogastronomy” experiment, hosted at the exhibition and online, to explore how the senses affect appetite. You can join in here.

The Cravings exhibition runs at the Science Museum until January 2016.

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