Epidemiological studies have previously demonstrated the contribution of a genetic background of diabetes to the development of obesity. The goal of this study was to explore the contribution of parental family history of diabetes to visceral fat area. Diabetes and obesity share many overlapping risk factors and genetic architecture, with visceral fat being responsible for many of the comorbidities associated with obesity. This large study, conducted in China, recruited 1875 people, aged 20-78, with normal glucose tolerance. The recruited individuals then had an assessment of their visceral fat accumulation using MRI.
The study found that a maternal family history of diabetes was associated with visceral fat accumulation, independently in both genders. Maternal transmission had a pronounced effect on obesity and related cardiovascular risk factors, however this study does not elucidate the underlying mechanism of this visceral fat accumulation. Despite the lack of understanding of the mechanism, this data can be used to inform public health policies when trying to predict which groups will be most at risk of obesity and its related comorbidities.
The number of bariatric operations performed globally is increasing every year. It is a very effective treatment, resulting in rapid sustained weight loss and reduction in obesity related comorbidities. However, very little is known about its impact on cancer risk. Obesity is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. This study set out to see what effect bariatric operations had on cancer risk.
In order to assess cancer risk, peripheral blood mononuclear cells were collected from 45 obese subjects before, and at two time point after, surgery (6 and 12 months) to assess spontaneous micro-nucleus activity. Population studies have found that micronucleus frequency is correlated to cancer risk and indicates genetic damage.
The study found that micronucleus frequency was significantly reduced in patients who had undergone bariatric surgery, which suggests that alongside it’s other key benefits, bariatric surgery has the potential to reduce the incidence of cancer.
Interactive effects of parenting behaviour and regulatory skills in toddlerhood on child weight outcomes
A known potential risk factor for childhood obesity is a low capacity for self-regulation, which is the ability to control or modulate behaviours, emotions and cognition across situations. Toddlerhood is critical period for this trait, as it is characterised by the rapid development and differentiation in regulatory capacity. In this study, the researchers investigate the relationship between inherent self-regulation and maternal behaviour.
Two aspects of maternal behaviour were assessed.These were positive responsiveness, which involves willingness to endorse the child’s choices, and gentle control, which involves attempts to change, redirect or elicit child behaviour. Toddler regulation was assessed using a variety of task based activities, questionnaires and experimenter ratings. These were then compared with BMI z scores at 4.5 years old.
This study found two significant interactions between maternal behaviours and toddler regulation in predicting BMI z score. Firstly, greater positive responsiveness during free play was significantly related to lower BMI z for toddlers with poor regulation. Secondly, that greater gentle control was associated with lower BMI z for toddlers with low self-regulation, but higher BMI z in toddlers with high self-regulation. The results suggest both parenting and toddler regulation may have important implications for child obesity.
Our gut microbiota is essential to human health. However, unravelling the ways in which this microbial community correlates to health is not straightforward, due to the diversity and complexity of the organisms and the individual. Westernisation, characterised by changes in diet, reduced physical activity and increased prevalence of non-communicable disease, is associated with changes in gut microbiota.
Previous studies looking to understand gut microbiota focus on extremely different populations; usually hunter-gatherers versus urban inhabitants of industrialised countries. This study, published in Nature, instead focuses on a population of 441 Colombian adults, who are in the midst of westernisation. They found that the gut microbiota of these non-western, non-traditional Colombians forms a complex enterogradient, on which features of hunter-gatherers and citizens of industrialized nations can be identified.
In order to investigate the relationships, this paper distinguished groups based on variation in microbiota, then mapped variables relating to host health afterwards. This allowed the discovery of well-defined consortia, associated with obesity, cardiometabolic risk and metabolic pathways through which microbiota could have an impact on health. Their findings illustrate the multiple ways in which the microbiota can affect health and disease. Furthermore, it suggests that strategies to promote a healthy microbiome might be an effective means of alleviating conditions contributing to the burden of disease in Western societies.
Currently one in five american children are suffering obesity. With these figures growing each year, it has become a public health priority to identify modifiable risk factors for the prevention of childhood obesity. The causes of obesity are complex, however can be divided into genetic causes and lifestyle causes. These lifestyle causes often lead to rapid weight gain, suggesting that “nurture” carries more weight than “nature” in driving the current pandemic.
This paper, published in the BMJ, sought to examine the association between a healthy maternal lifestyle and the risk of developing obesity in offspring. A healthy lifestyle was characterised by healthy BMI, high quality diet, regular exercise, no smoking and light to moderate alcohol intake. Overall, it was found that a healthy lifestyle in the mother was associated with substantially lower risk of obesity in their children. If they adhered to the five low risk lifestyle factors, the children had a 75% lower risk of developing incident obesity than children of mothers who did not adhere to any of the low risk lifestyle factors.
Although this paper cannot draw any conclusions as to the mechanism of this relationship, their findings highlight maternal lifestyle choices as a potentially crucial factor in the aetiology of childhood obesity, adding weight to the argument that parent and family based interventions for reducing childhood obesity are a crucial and important target.Read More