Scientists from UK universities have developed a urine test to determine the nature of diet consumed by a person.

The five-minute test, developed by scientists from Newcastle University, Imperial College London and Aberystwyth University, analyses the biological markers in urine which is created by the breakdown of foods such as red meat, chicken, fish and fruit and vegetables.

It also determines the content of fat, sugar, fibre and protein consumed by a person.

Newcastle University Human Nutrition Research Centre research co-author professor John Mathers said: "For the first time, this research offers an objective way of assessing the overall healthiness of people's diets without all the hassles, biases and errors of recording what they have eaten."

A study was conducted with 19 volunteers who followed four healthy and unhealthy diets, based on World Health Organisation dietary guidelines.

After following the diet for three days at a London research facility, the scientists collected urine samples in the morning, afternoon and evening and examined the samples for compounds, called metabolites, produced when certain foods are broken down in the body.

Based on the information derived from the urine samples, the scientists developed a urine metabolite profile, which indicated a healthy, balanced diet consisting of fruit and vegetables.

"This research offers an objective way of assessing the overall healthiness of people's diets without all the hassles."

The research team is now planning to refine the technology by applying it on larger number of people in order to evaluate accuracy of test on an average person's diet, outside of a research setting.

Imperial college Faculty of Medicine co-author Dr Isabel Garcia-Perez said: "We need to develop the test further so we can monitor the diet based on a single urine sample, as well as increase the sensitivity.

“This will eventually provide a tool for personalised dietary monitoring to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

The team expects that the technology can complement weight loss programmes, as well as help heart attack patients follow a healthy diet.

Image: New urine test determines diet of person. Photo: courtesy of Newcastle University.