Nestlé scientists help to identify biomarkers for obesity-related health problems

Oct 9, 2013
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BROAD PROGRAMME: The study is part of a wider investigation into human metabolism and obesity.

People with visceral obesity share a unique set of biomarkers that could one day be used to identify individuals more likely to be at risk of developing obesity-related health problems, a new study suggests.

Scientists from the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland studied a group of women with visceral obesity - where excess fat is concentrated around the internal organs - and discovered they had a distinct ‘metabolic signature’ of lipids and amino acids in common, as well as specific changes in gut microbial activities.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, are part of an ongoing scientific collaboration between Nestlé and General Electric to find efficient and inexpensive methods of screening and monitoring body composition in individuals.

Higher risk

“People who have visceral obesity are recognised as being at higher risk of developing certain related illnesses,” said François-Pierre Martin, the Nestlé scientist who led the study.

“Finding minimally-invasive, fast and reliable biomarkers to screen people for visceral obesity could help to monitor the effectiveness of different therapies,” he continued.

“In the future it could be an efficient and accessible way of helping to address the burden of obesity-related problems.” François-Pierre Martin, Senior Scientist at Nestlé Institute of Health Science

“In the future it could be an efficient and accessible way of helping to address the burden of obesity-related problems such as insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

Imaging techniques

In the study, scientists monitored 40 obese but otherwise healthy women over a two-week period at the out-patient obesity clinic of the University Hospital of Lausanne, Switzerland.

They measured the women’s body composition and distribution of fat tissue with modern imaging techniques such as dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and computed tomography (CT), using technology provided by General Electric.

They also took blood and urine samples at regular intervals to monitor individuals’ metabolism.

Wider research

The study is part of a much wider programme of research conducted by Nestlé into human metabolism as well as obesity and its related health problems.

Scientific work carried out by the company in these areas has included studies examining the effects of various protein sources on energy metabolism, satiety and glucose control, the complex signals sent by the gut to the brain, how to improve glucose control for type two diabetes and effect of chewing on satiety.


Related information:
Nestlé Research Center
General Electric Research
Full text of study published in PLOS ONE

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