Lipids and Health
Lausanne, Switzerland. November 8, 2005
Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company, is taking the lead in addressing key public health issues and is actively responding to the growing consumer demand for personalised nutrition. As evidence of Nestlé’s long-term commitment to these issues, the Nestlé Research Center (NRC), the scientific centre of Nestlé, hosted the 2nd International Nutrition Symposium (INS). One hundred and fifty global leaders in nutrition and life sciences came together to share the latest research and thinking in their field and address the impact of metabolic dysfunction as a contributor to some of today’s major global health issues.
The symposium highlighted the fact that imbalances in diet combined with genetic predisposition can deregulate cellular metabolism. Although spectacular advances have been made in understanding how metabolism is regulated and how it can become imbalanced, it is still impossible today to distinguish clear mechanisms causing health issues related to increased body weight in individuals. The scientists were in consensus that nutrition has a much more complex role to play in maintaining good health. Furthermore, the findings of the symposium have provided a strategic vision for the NRC to guide its future efforts to understand the links between food and metabolism. This vision will open doors to new perspectives, using food as a means of maintaining health and preventing diseases such as obesity and diabetes.
“The NRC is excited by the research presented at the symposium and we will continue to work and share knowledge with the world’s leading scientific minds to address such essential public health issues,” said Peter van Bladeren, Director of the NRC. “We are conscious that obesity and related diseases are much more complicated than thought before, but we are convinced that nutrition has an important role to play next to pharma.”
International Nutrition Symposium
Among the findings presented at the meeting cell communication was identified as a key factor in the control of metabolic regulation. Adipocytes, or fat cells, are much more important than previously thought. We now know they produce signalling molecules that are a part of an elaborate endocrine communication system between tissues. Failures in this signalling process can not only lead to defects in energy storage and metabolism resulting in obesity, but also weaken the immune system.
All energy competent cells even including neurological cells in the brain are capable of sensing nutrients using mechanisms that are only beginning to be understood. Communication between these various cell types causes energy to be managed successfully, but when nutrient sensing in one tissue fails, the effects can cascade to the entire body. These nutrient sensing mechanisms are emerging as the targets that explain why diet and exercise are seen to influence weight regulation.
Global Prevalence of Diabetes and Obesity
Today it is estimated that around 194 million people have diabetes, an increase of over 40 percent from the 1995 global estimation of 135 million published in a World Health Organization study in 1998. Of these, about 85 percent have Type 2 Diabetes. The prevalence of diabetes is still increasing at an alarming rate and is expected to rise to almost 333 million by the year 2025 and if left unchecked, promises to exceed the ability of public health services to manage the costs alone.
Currently at least 300 million of the world’s one billion overweight adults are clinically obese and obesity rates have risen three-fold or more since 1980 in many areas of the globe*. Humans vary in their genetic predisposition to become overweight in response to particular environmental surroundings as does the tendency to become diabetic. Hence, each individual requires a specific dietary strategy tailored to his or her metabolism to prevent and reduce the impact of obesity and diabetes.
Reference: Obesity and Overweight (pdf, 2Mb)
Associated Publication: Obesity and Diabetes