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Approved Research

Food preferences and habitual diet in health and non-communicable diseases

Principal Investigator: Dr Fotios Drenos
Approved Research ID: 62265
Approval date: January 25th 2021

Lay summary

The goal of the current study will be to assess the relationship between diet, genes and health related behaviours and diseases using the UK Biobank. The link between diet and genes has already been established in genome-wide association studies and by investigation of rare harmful mutations in key genes. These have shown a clear link between roughly 120 genes and the type of foods people typically consume. Understanding the link between diet and genes will provide valuable insight into how people come to prefer certain types of foods. It has already been shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables provide protection against weight gain and developing some chronic illnesses. In contrasts, diets high in processed meats have frequently been associated with poor long-term health outcomes.

Previous research has focused on the use of questionnaires to determine the correlation between diet and a variety of other similar health related behaviours and diseases. This method has significant problems with replication and is prone to errors and inaccuracies due to other factors not efficiently controlled for. In this project we will use the genetic evidence to mimic interventional clinical studies to provide an accurate estimate for the impact of diet on health. Research to date has relied on small cohorts of participants. The UK Biobank will provide the added benefit of a suitably large dataset with sufficient power to explore these complex interactions between behaviour and genes.