Diet and Human Health

Dietary factors and energy balance play a central role in the development of chronic non-communicable diseases which represent a continuously growing cost burden for the healthcare system. Common diet-related diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer (breast, colon etc.) and, finally, neurodegenerative diseases account for more than one third of all expenses. It should be stressed that all these diseases are characterized by a high and poorly exploited potential for preventive actions by a healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet and an increase in physical activity.

Despite major progress over the past decade there is still substantial uncertainty on the specific role of dietary components and eating patterns in this context which deserves further scientific efforts in different kinds of human studies. By managing a well-equipped human study centre ZIEL is able to address some of these central questions with a focus on obesity and type 2 diabetes. Of particular interest is the gene-diet-interaction which is studied in well controlled short-term intervention studies using genotyping, extensive clinical phenotyping and metabolomics to better understand the heterogeneity of metabolic responses to defined diets in humans as well as the individual susceptibility towards metabolic and other diet-related diseases.