What's Involved?


Contact us

All of the studies taking place at the Rowett Institute will be slightly different and specific information on each one is available in the Current Studies Section.  Below we have tried to address some of the most common questions but, if you have any further queries, please feel free to get in touch.

Watch our latest videos to find out more about volunteering.

What is my Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body Mass Index or BMI is a measure of whether you're a healthy weight for your height and is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by your height in metres squared (kg/m2). Some of our studies may ask for volunteers in a certain BMI range. You can calculate yours at NHS healthy weight calculator.

Resting metabolic rate measurement

What will taking part in a study involve?

As mentioned, the requirements of every study will be slightly different but there are a few commonalities between them all.  It is likely that, on the introductory visit, you will be asked a few simple health questions and that your height and weight will be measured in order to calculate your body mass index (BMI).  These are simply to ensure that you are eligible to take part in the study you have volunteered for.  You will also be given the opportunity to ask the researcher any questions you may have and, when happy, you will be asked to sign a consent form.

The time commitment required and exact measurements taken will vary from study to study.  More information can be found in our Current Studies section but you may be asked to;

  • Change your diet for a designated period of time (food will be provided)
  • Complete a Food Diary (see more info below)
  • Complete questionnaires
  • Have your blood pressure measured
  • Give blood samples
  • Give faecal samples
  • Give saliva samples
  • Give urine samples
  • Wear an activity monitor
  • Undergo non-invasive body scans

What will happen to my samples/information?

All samples and information collected will be kept strictly confidential.  You will be given a unique participant number for each study so the data will be completely anonymous and cannot be attributed to you.  All studies taking place at the Rowett Institute have ethical approval.

man being weighed

What's in it for me?

After you have completed your chosen study, the research team will post/email feedback to you.  The details of this will depend on the study but it may include your body measurements, physical activity profile and detailed information on the breakdown of your diet.  You will be able to see how your information compares to recommended guidelines.

Participating in a study is a great way to give yourself a “mini-MOT”.  Whether you have a curiosity about your current diet or want to make a lifestyle change, taking part could be the kick-start that you need.

For a case study by a current volunteer see Volunteer viewpoint


Completing a food diary

Some studies will require you to complete a food diary covering 4 – 7 days.  When analysed, these can be used to give you feedback on the composition of your diet i.e. what proportion of protein, fat and carbohydrates you consume and, if necessary, possible changes that could be made to make your diet healthier.

Sometimes completing a food diary will require you to weigh everything you eat and, although this can seem onerous, it provides us with a detailed record so we can give you the most accurate feedback possible. We are definitely not here to scrutinise or pass judgement on what you eat so please be honest!

Many people find completing a food diary very enlightening as it makes you more conscious of what you are eating and how much.

Arriving at the Rowett

Arriving at the Human Nutrition Unit

When should I arrive?

The researcher you have been in touch with will have provided you with an arrival time so please contact them if you are unsure.

Who will I meet?

You will meet one of the researchers conducting your chosen study, probably the person you have been in email/telephone contact with to arrange the visit.  For more information on the scientists involved in each study, see our Current Studies section.


Where is the Human Nutrition Unit?

The Human Nutrition Unit is based at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, Foresterhill Campus.

Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health
University of Aberdeen
Ashgrove Road West
AB25 2ZT

How can I contact the Human Nutrition Unit?

Telephone 01224 438700