Last updated Mar 10, 2019Time spent sitting, sleeping and moving is determined in part by our genes, University of Oxford researchers have shown.
“It is only by being able to study large amounts of data, such as those provided by UK Biobank, that we are able to understand the complex genetic basis of even some of the most basic human functions like moving, resting and sleeping.”The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, and the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence at Oxford. The study was collaborative, and performed by a multidisciplinary team of scientists from a diverse set of fields, including machine learning, genetics, statistics, and epidemiology. The use of machine learning in big healthcare datasets is advancing quickly, and having a profound effect on the sorts of studies that can be carried out, Dr Karl Smith-Byrne, one of the lead analysts of the study said.
“We have carefully developed machine learning models to teach machines how to analyse complex functions like activity,” he said. “These models provide exciting new insights into human movement behaviours in large studies such as UK Biobank with its half a million participants.” Professor Michael Holmes, a BHF Intermediate Clinical Research Fellow, said: “This provides scientists with a wonderful opportunity to learn much more about how genes and environment interact in our daily lives, causing us to move as we do, and possibly putting us at increased risk of disease. For instance, it might help us determine whether inactivity is a cause or a consequence of obesity.”To help identify the types of activity recorded on the wrist monitors, the researchers turned to 200 volunteers who wore a special camera that captured their activity every 20 seconds over two days. The images were compared with the activity data captured by the wrist worn monitors, providing a guide to interpreting the data.