Wednesday 20 March 2019

New diet and activity research collaboration tackles obesity and chronic disease challenge

The nation’s world-leading researchers in nutrition and physical activity, including colleagues from the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre, have pledged to work together to tackle challenges associated with obesity and sedentary behaviours.

The UK is recognised internationally for the strength of its research in diet, nutrition, and physical activity. For the first time these experts from across the country have formally united to launch the NIHR Diet and Activity Research Translation (DART) Collaboration.

Professor Melanie Davies, Chair of the DART Collaboration and Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “Diet, nutrition, and physical inactivity underpin all the major chronic long-term conditions challenging the NHS. The relationship between food, nutrition exercise and health is complex, and is affected by biological as well as environmental, socioeconomic, cultural and behavioural factors. By pooling our collective expertise and through stronger cross-sector and cross-disciplinary partnerships we can tackle the major nutrition and activity research challenges facing our society.”

The DART Collaboration will focus on issues such as treating and preventing obesity in children and adults; nutritional phenotyping, including dietary assessment and stratification or personalisation of dietary advice; nutrition and aging; and the links between cardio-metabolic disease and obesity.

Colleagues from across Newcastle Hospitals and Newcastle University are closely involved in this collaboration through the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). With a focus on research in ageing and long-term conditions, and developing a better understanding of health throughout the life course, the NIHR Newcastle BRC is ideally placed to be part of this collaboration. Professor Avan Sayer, Director of the Newcastle BRC commented:

“Our ageing research spans a number of scientific areas; from the biology of ageing to how our understanding of this can help us plan interventions that will improve our health as we age.

Being part of this collaboration allows us to enhance knowledge in this area for the NIHR, but also allows us to tap into significant strengths in ageing and nutrition research from across Newcastle University”.

By developing a shared strategy, the DART Collaboration will maximise the impact of funding for experimental research in diet, nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviours. The Collaboration will agree priority areas, focusing on where there is the greatest unmet need or challenges and will collectively address these.

Dr Louise Wood, Director of Science, Research and Evidence at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: “Rising levels of obesity and diet-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, are putting a huge strain on patients, the NHS and the wider economy. The DART Collaboration is bringing together some of the best researchers in our hospitals and universities to work with charities and industry to drive innovation in approaches to diet, nutrition and physical activity in order to tackle this and benefit human health in the UK and globally.”

Who is involved from Newcastle University?

The following experts from Newcastle university will be part of the NIHR Newcastle BRC’s collaboration:

About the NIHR Diet and Activity Research Translation Collaboration

The NIHR DART Collaboration includes researchers from across the NIHR’s Biomedical Research Centres:

  • NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Guy’s and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre
  • NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre