The science of healthy living – the EXGENESIS project
In Europe, as in other regions, wealth and prosperity have brought some unwanted consequences, including a sedentary lifestyle and easy access to greater quantities of food, often too rich in sugar and highly saturated fats. As a result, the EU is now facing a veritable obesity epidemic, and this means higher rates of Type 2 diabetes.
The EU-funded EXGENESIS project is working to provide a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the protective effects of exercise and a healthy diet. Recent scientific advances have highlighted the role of signalling pathways and changes in gene expression in muscle and other tissues through which the beneficial effects of exercise arise.
The aim of EXGENESIS is to establish a major European consortium that can capitalise on these advances, converting them into new measures for prevention and treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Results could include innovative medecines, or more efficient approaches towards healthier lifestyles, especially with respect to diet and exercise.
The costs of unhealthy living
The effects of obesity and unhealthy eating habits are threatening to overwhelm European healthcare systems. Exact figures are difficult to ascertain, precisely because obesity is linked to so many health problems, but the human cost, in terms of overall life expectancy and quality of life, is clear. In addition to diabetes, obesity is linked to illnesses such as heart disease and stroke and is estimated to cause 70 000 new cancer cases in Europe every year. According to the International Obesity Task Force, the prevalence of obesity has increased by 10-40% in the majority of European countries in the past ten years.