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Step forward for European genes and diet research programme – University of Reading

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Step forward for European genes and diet research programme

Release Date 06 December 2005

a selection of foodsResearchers from Reading's School of Agriculture, Policy & Development (SAPD) and School of Food Biosciences will attend a major conference in Germany this week, where some of Europe's foremost scientists are gathering to discuss the latest advances in Lipgene – a vital project that considers the role of genes and diet in human health. The conference, which is called 'Agro-food technologies: Opportunities and barriers to improving health', takes place at the Feringapark Hotel in Munich on Friday 9 December. Organised by the British Nutrition Foundation, the conference will highlight the potential of existing and new technologies in improving the nutritional composition of animal and plant foods to benefit health. Experts will also explore the economic implications for modifying the nutritional composition of these foods. Reading's Professor Ian Givens will speak at the conference about the role of animal nutrition in improving the fatty acid profile of milk and meat. The conference has been organised on behalf of Lipgene researchers. The Lipgene project (1) is a pan-European consortium of 25 research partners exploring metabolic syndrome (2), which is a disease associated with obesity, diabetes and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (such as stroke and heart disease). Some 25% of the adult population in countries such as the UK could be affected by metabolic syndrome. Lipgene researchers are working to establish the role of diet in the development of the metabolic syndrome and ways in which its prevalence and associated complications can be reduced, through the foods and diet that we eat. Reading's researchers play a major role in this important research. Professor Ian Givens, Director of both the Nutritional Sciences Research Unit and the Centre for Dairy Research in the SAPD, is undertaking research for the Animal Nutrition 'arm' of the Lipgene project. Professor Christine Williams, Head of Reading's School of Food Biosciences, is undertaking research for the Human Nutrition 'arm'. End Notes for editors 1. The Lipgene project, entitled 'Diet, genomics and the metabolic syndrome: an integrated nutrition, agro-food, social and economic analysis' is a five-year research project funded by the EU Commission. It will explore the interactions of nutrients and genotype in the metabolic syndrome. More information on the project can be found at 2. An excess of body fat, especially abdominal fat, leads to impaired glucose and lipid metabolism, which leads to hyperinsulinaemia (a high blood insulin level, also known as insulin resistance). At its most severe this leads to diabetes; less severe degrees of insulin resistance lead to what is a multi-component disease known as the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic syndrome describes a clustering of several risk factors for heart disease and stroke, namely abdominal obesity, abnormal blood lipids (e.g. high LDL cholesterol [especially small dense LDL], reduced HDL cholesterol & raised triglyceride concentrations), insulin resistance and high blood pressure (hypertension). Metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke); those with the metabolic syndrome are three times more likely to suffer heart disease or stroke than someone with normal blood insulin concentrations. For further information on the metabolic syndrome and the Lipgene project please visit for Q and As on the topic. For media enquiries, please contact Craig Hillsley, the University of Reading press officer. T: +44 (0) 118 378 7388 E:

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