Nav: Home

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:

The role of vitamin A in diabetes
There has been no known link between diabetes and vitamin A -- until now.
Can continuous glucose monitoring improve diabetes control in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin
Two studies in the Jan. 24/31 issue of JAMA find that use of a sensor implanted under the skin that continuously monitors glucose levels resulted in improved levels in patients with type 1 diabetes who inject insulin multiple times a day, compared to conventional treatment.
Complications of type 2 diabetes affect quality of life, care can lead to diabetes burnout
T2D Lifestyle, a national survey by Health Union of more than 400 individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes (T2D), reveals that patients not only struggle with commonly understood complications, but also numerous lesser known ones that people do not associate with diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity -- what do we really know?
Social and economic factors have led to a dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes and obesity around the world.
A better way to predict diabetes
An international team of researchers has discovered a simple, accurate new way to predict which women with gestational diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes after delivery.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Older Americans with diabetes living longer without disability, US study shows
Older Americans with diabetes born in the 1940s are living longer and with less disability performing day to day tasks than those born 10 years earlier, according to new research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.
Reverse your diabetes -- and you can stay diabetes-free long-term
A new study from Newcastle University, UK, has shown that people who reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down remain free of diabetes.
New cause of diabetes
Although insulin-producing cells are found in the endocrine tissue of the pancreas, a new mouse study suggests that abnormalities in the exocrine tissue could cause cell non-autonomous effects that promotes diabetes-like symptoms.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology: Reducing sugar content in sugar-sweetened drinks by 40 percent over 5 years could prevent 1.5 million cases of overweight and obesity in the UK and 300,000 cases of diabetes
A new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal suggests that reducing sugar content in sugar sweetened drinks (including fruit juices) in the UK by 40 percent over five years, without replacing them with any artificial sweeteners, could prevent 500,000 cases of overweight and 1 million cases of obesity, in turn preventing around 300,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, over two decades.
Breastfeeding lowers risk of type 2 diabetes following gestational diabetes
Women with gestational diabetes who consistently and continuously breastfeed from the time of giving birth are half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes within two years after delivery, according to a study from Kaiser Permanente published today in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Related Diabetes Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Don't Fear Math
Why do many of us hate, even fear math? Why are we convinced we're bad at it? This hour, TED speakers explore the myths we tell ourselves and how changing our approach can unlock the beauty of math. Guests include budgeting specialist Phylecia Jones, mathematician and educator Dan Finkel, math teacher Eddie Woo, educator Masha Gershman, and radio personality and eternal math nerd Adam Spencer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#518 With Genetic Knowledge Comes the Need for Counselling
This week we delve into genetic testing - for yourself and your future children. We speak with Jane Tiller, lawyer and genetic counsellor, about genetic tests that are available to the public, and what to do with the results of these tests. And we talk with Noam Shomron, associate professor at the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, about technological advancements his lab has made in the genetic testing of fetuses.