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Combating obesity in Europe
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Understanding the metabolic machine

The problem of obesity is not as easy as it may appear. With the large number of factors at play, it does not always boil down to a simple zero sum equation in which controlling weight is a matter of matching food intake with activity.

This is partly because we do not fully understand the complex mechanics at work in our bodies and everyone reacts differently to food and exercise. In addition, we do not know precisely how much a person’s propensity to put on weight is due to nature and how much is a question of nurture.

Written in the genes?

The EU is funding a number of groundbreaking research efforts that seek to understand the link between obesity, nutrition and genetic make-up, and when there is a genetic link to identify groups at risk.

European Union-backed research is also exploring how our bodies metabolise food and how they deal with different types of nutrition. Such knowledge will help enhance diets and the nutritional value of food.

Nature versus nurture in our waistlines

As the obesity crisis takes on increasingly worrying proportions, a debate is brewing about how much of this is down to diet and how much is written in people’s genes. In an effort to shed light on the question, the DiOGenes (Diet, Obesity and Gene) project addresses the influence of gene-nutrient interaction on the development of obesity. It will carry out “the most comprehensive study yet of dietary components and the genetic and behavioural factors influencing weight gain?.

Chewing over the link between diet and genes

Are some people more prone to obesity than others is a question that the NUGENOB project is trying to answer. It aims to improve our understanding of the interaction between fat intake and genetic variations and functions. It is studying obese and lean volunteers from eight European cities. After investigating their dietary and lifestyle habits, NUGENOB feeds the participants specially designed high-fat and low-fat diets. It monitors how their bodies respond and whether this relates to a genetic predisposition to obesity.



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