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Combating obesity in Europe
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Prevention, the best diet

Losing weight is much harder than gaining it, so prevention really is better than cure. And prevention starts with a healthy diet and regular exercise.

In addition, modern lifestyles – both at work and at play – are becoming more sedentary, while our diets have become richer to match our rising prosperity. Public health initiatives are being launched across Europe to get people, especially children, eating healthily and taking up active pursuits.

Metabolic mechanics

To prevent obesity, we need to understand better how our diets, physical activity and metabolism interact, ­not just for the population as a whole, but also for specific sub-groups.

In this way, specific diets and exercise programmes can be designed and solutions found for others who – through a genetic disposition or simple inability – find it difficult to lose the weight that is putting them at risk of disease.

You are what your mother eats

Mothers know instinctively that what they eat during pregnancy and what they feed their babies is vital to their growth and well-being. Some may also be aware that nutrition in these early stages will influence their children’s health and capabilities as adults. Recent studies have backed this view. In one study, improved early nutrition and infant weight led to a sharp reduction in high blood pressure among adults. Involving scientists from 16 countries, EARNEST is finding ways public health practices can influence foetal and infant nutrition to reduce the prevalence of certain conditions, including obesity, in later life and to improve the development of the brain and social skills.

Tracing the X factor back to the womb

Metabolic syndrome is the tendency of several disorders to occur together – including high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, obesity, high lipids or insulin resistance – multiplying the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The world is currently on the verge of a Syndrome X epidemic, with up to a quarter of American and more than 15% of European adults already suffering from it. Experts in the field are beginning to link poor diet in the womb with the emergence of degenerative diseases in later life. The NUTRIX project has sought to pinpoint this suspected foetal origin so as to formulate nutritional recommendations for pregnant and nursing mothers.



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