What's going on when you find yourself longing for a cheeseburger or feeling an irresistible urge to eat chocolate cake? That's the question this new exhibition at the Science Museum is asking. Although the displays – whose graphics borrow from the aesthetic of kids' picture books and the iconography of fast-food joints – occupy only a modest wedge of the museum's Antenna gallery, they offer plenty of food for thought. Through an appetising combination of personal stories and cutting-edge science, they investigate how food affects our bodies,brains and habits.
One section explores the way dishes and utensils alter our perception of taste ñ and the potential those insights offer for helping an increasingly overweight population change its eating habits. We're already familiar with the idea that a smaller plate can make it easier to reduce portion size; less well known is the fact that food eaten from a gold-plated spoon is perceived as sweeter and thicker. So a bit of bling on the dining table could, for example, make it much easier to choose low-fat yoghurt over double cream.
Whatever you eat, you never dine alone: the 100 trillion gut bacteria that share your every meal are some of the stars of this show. And, if you're not too squeamish, there's some fascinating stuff on the subject of faeces. Unless you are someone involved in the poo black market, you've probably not come across the idea that stool transplants could help cure obesity. The procedure, which has been tested successfully in mice, ￼is a way of introducing healthy bacteria into a patient's intestine; and it's already been approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.
Taking a very different approach to the control of cravings, a digital quiz invites you to identify which of a series of government policies – some real, others imaginary – you could stomach. This is just a taster of the topics covered by a deceptively slim show that will encourage you to think more carefully about what's really happening when your tummy rumbles.