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Approved research

The relative contribution of sedentary behaviour, diet and genetic susceptibility to the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiometabolic health.

Principal Investigator: Professor Christofer Toumazou
Approved Research ID: 56132
Approval date: June 12th 2020

Lay summary

In the past few years, sedentary behaviour has gained much attention both in research and the media for the negative association to metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. Lifestyle risk factors play an especially important role in the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the UK and across the world, with the burden of set to increase further in the coming decades. Despite the accumulating data regarding the risks of individual lifestyle risk factors, current evidence is not sufficient to provide more segmented approaches to disease prevention that incorporate genetic risk, sedentary behaviour, physical activity and diet. Moreover, the heterogeneous nature of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes makes it challenging to develop a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to prevention, with variations in genetic profile and environment impacting the risk of developing the condition. The spread of consumer-available genotyping assays and health monitoring devices poses an interesting question: how can we effectively incorporate these data to create personalised prevention programs that are clinically relevant and readily available? The first step is to investigate the interaction between physical activity, sedentary behaviour, diet and genetic variation in determining the risk of developing a certain condition. Preliminary results come from recent studies proving the gene-environment interaction for BMI, whereby the BMI-risk alleles exacerbate the association between sitting times and BMI. Given the increasingly investigated and documented genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes and the importance of lifestyle risk factors in the prevention and management of the condition, we hypothesise that such interactions exist also for diabetes. The main aim of this project is to investigate how the interaction of lifestyle and genes impacts the characteristics of type 2 diabetes by clustering patients according to their cardiometabolic health. Results derived in this project could have particular significance for public health, as they will provide further data regarding the effects of sedentary behaviour on metabolic risk factors, which could potentially inform more segmented approaches to prevention programmes. The project has also clinical significance, to be of interest to the delivery and implementation of the national diabetes programme through estimating relative contributions to disease risk of both genetic profile and the leading lifestyle risk factors.