Lausanne, Switzerland, January 30, 2015 – The Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) is to continue collaborating with Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry in the UK as part of a ground-breaking study into how the way we live in childhood may affect our health as adults.
Funded by a number of charities and companies, including Nestlé, the study, called EarlyBird, began in 2000 and it is now entering its third phase. Its aim – to follow a cohort of 300 children from an early age, better understand how their lifestyle, behaviours and diet influence their metabolic health as they grow, and identify relevant biomarkers for metabolic and nutritional health in childhood.
The study provides a unique set-up to explore the biology of growing children, how metabolic disorders develop in childhood and their health consequences in adulthood. Of special interest are lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which evidence suggests are becoming ever more prevalent in early childhood. Novel findings have been generated throughout the years which resulted in a number of peer-reviewed publications.
Funding for the research has now been extended, allowing EarlyBird3 to continue to follow many of the members from the original cohort as they enter adulthood (the volunteers are now aged around 19). The study will run from now to 2017. The research teams are planning to continue and complete analysis of their findings and publish them.
‘This is a great opportunity to continue our research into better understanding how diet, lifestyle and environment interact with genes and metabolism in childhood, especially during puberty, to determine health in adulthood’, explains Ed Baetge, head of NIHS.
‘We know a lot about what are the factors that impact on our health in infancy, adulthood and old age, but there’s a real gap in our knowledge when it comes to puberty and adolescence’, adds François-Pierre Martin from NIHS. ‘This research will go a long way towards bridging that gap. Having the opportunity to extend this work as the cohort now enters adulthood means we can further enhance our understanding of how lifestyle choices during our formative years affect us later in life.’
As well as part-funding the EarlyBird3 research with approximately half million Swiss francs, NIHS is primarily responsible for metabolically characterizing the individuals across childhood by taking accurate measurements of metabolites such as amino acids, sugars and antioxidants, whose abundance in body fluids accurately reflects an individual’s health status. This analysis has the aim of capturing the underlying molecular processes and gaining a comprehensive view on the body’s activity and response under different conditions.
By studying the factors which predispose an individual to conditions such as obesity and diabetes and better understanding the requirements for optimal growth, the researchers hope to develop novel approaches to prevent and manage health. As such, this work will provide a major contribution to NIHS’ mission of better defining and maintaining health through the development of science-based targeted nutritional solutions.
For enquiries, please contact:
Laura Camurri, Communications, NIHS
- For more on the subject, see O. Cominetti, S. Collino, and F-P. Martin, ‘Monitoring metabolism across childhood: biomarkers for nutritional health and disease risk management’, Agro FOOD Industry Hi Tech vol 25 (6) November/December 2014, pp. 14-18.
- For more information on key findings on EarlyBird: