A Pint of Science - Fascinating Fats
This week I have had the rare opportunity to present my work to two very different audiences. The week started with Pint of Science. This festival is now in its fourth year and is held in 26 cities across the UK. Scientists present their work to the general public in pubs, which provides an informal setting for individuals to learn about current research being conducted in a range of scientific disciplines - from medicine to marine environments. My work focuses on the role of fats in the development of type 2 diabetes, a subject which the media often misreports. Being given the chance to cut out the media middle man was an opportunity I did not want to miss! But how to describe my work to lay individuals who weren’t biologists? I first needed to explain what a fat was. A happy Friday afternoon was spent building a fat out of ping pong balls so that my audience could have a visual representation. I then coupled this with a selection of butter and oils that attendees could dip bread into to observe how different fats tasted and how viscosity changed according to the variations in the fats chemical structure. Fats are often demonised by the press so I next provided an overview as to why they were essential for normal functioning of the body. This led onto describing what happened when fats were in excess, i.e. when an individual is obese, and how this contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes in those patients who are genetically predisposed. To my delight the audience were highly engaged, and I was given the opportunity to talk to people who suffered from type 2 diabetes or had relatives with the condition. I was able to provide lifestyle advice based on current scientific evidence for improving their quality of life or minimising their chances of developing the condition. What an honour and a great way to spend an evening down at the pub!