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New £900k project launched to tackle obesity crisis

A major new project has been launched to help understand the origins of obesity and the impact of diet for those with a genetic risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The research project, which is funded by the Medical Research Council, will be led by the University of Reading and will focus on studying young adults in Peru to support the research.

According to the World Health Organisation, obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with at least 2.8 million people dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Reports also suggest that around 2.2bn people are either overweight or obese – equivalent to nearly a third (30%) of the world’s population.

The team behind the project will look at the crucial question of why certain diets work for some and not for others, and will look at how 93 specific genetic markers on obesity can influence the effectiveness of those diets.

The study will also use data about childhood development to look at whether or not the lifestyle of participants has had an influence on the genetic risk of obesity. It will also consider the impact of the environment in which people live and their social surroundings.

The team hopes that the research will help to support the creation of personalised diets based on each person’s genes.

Dr Vimal Karani, the lead researcher from the University of Reading said:

The relationship between our genes and what we eat is becoming clearer. We already have seen a link between the consumption of certain types of fat and reduction in markers relating to type two diabetes. With a project of this scale in Peru, we hope to find clear links between diet, genes and obesity.

Researchers at the University of Reading will be joined by colleagues from the UK and Peru – including the University of Oxford, the Nutrition Research Institute – Instituto de Investigacion de Investigacion Nutricional (Lima, Peru) and Pedro Ruiz Gallo National University (Trujillo, Peru).


Image provided by Steve Baker