How does the environment affect obesity?

May 02, 2016

Hamilton, ON (May 2, 2016) - How the environment impacts obesity and other problems such as diabetes and liver disease is the focus for a McMaster University research team which is receiving a large federal grant today.

Drs. Gregory Steinberg and Katherine Morrison lead the team, which will receive $2 million. They are the co-directors of the Metabolism and Childhood (MAC-Obesity) Research Program of McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences.

More than five million Canadians have the chronic interrelated diseases of obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and type-2 diabetes, and those numbers are rapidly growing, says Steinberg.

"These diseases have become much more prevalent in the last decade and reduce quality of life and life expectancy. However, the reasons why incidence rates have increased so dramatically are not fully understood," says Steinberg. "Clearly we need to do something about it, and this grant is a significant step towards solving this crisis."

Brown adipose tissue (BAT), widely known as brown fat, is present in large amounts in infants and then decreases as humans age. BAT acts as the body's furnace to burn calories. Activating or "turning on" brown fat has shown to reverse obesity and may be a viable therapy for treating type-2 diabetes, but the ability to turn on BAT in individuals with obesity or type-2 diabetes is reduced.

With the newly-announced funds, the MAC-Obesity team will be conducting further studies on brown fat.

"We will be looking at the environmental factors affecting BAT," says Morrison. "A lot of people focus on the appetite side of the equation, but we're focusing on how food is used, and what environmental agents may influence this process."

Steinberg and Morrison's team will be examining how agricultural and food processing practices may affect brown fat activity directly or indirectly. Research will look at how toxicants such as pesticides or herbicides could alter BAT in individuals in addition to food ingredients such as artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrups, says Steinberg.

The studies will help develop new strategies to enhance BAT activity that may be effective for treating and preventing obesity, NAFLD and type-2 diabetes, says Morrison.

"These funds have a critical role in bringing together a team that includes health care professionals working with adults and children, pre-clinical scientists, microbiologists, bioinformatics experts and imaging experts. We will incorporate cutting-edge technologies to make new discoveries of how brown adipose tissue and the gut microbiome interact to influence health."

The funding is being provided by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) signature initiative on Environments and Health, which supports research focused on understanding how the environment contributes to health and disease and improving overall health.
-end-


McMaster University

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.