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Event Highlights: Obesity from a Physiological Perspective

Randox Research Sales Manager Allen Huxley at St James Park ahead of the Obesity conferenceThe Randox Research Division recently had the pleasure of exhibiting at the 2014 Physiological Society conference titled: ‘Obesity: A Physiological Perspective‘ held at St James Park, home of premiership football club Newcastle United FC.

Allen Huxley (UK Research Sales Manager) and Liam Thomas (Regional Sales Consultant) had the pleasure of not only having a sneak peak at the stadium, but also had the opportunity to observe presentations by attending delegates.  A summary of the key presentations are provided below:

Obesity: A Goldilocks Paradigm

Presented by: Professor Mark Walker

Professor Walker started his Wednesday afternoon plenary lecture a little differently. Instead of reciting the latest obesity statistics or explaining his research, Professor Walker told us the story of Goldilocks. The point being that just like the porridge she tried which firstly was too hot, secondly too cold and then just right, can this be related to the metabolic health of society? The question was raised if this was applicable to body shape and fat distribution? Is there a ‘just right’ physique which is metabolically healthy compared to the lean population and the obese-diabetic population.

From birth the number of fat cells can gradually increase with age, however, at approximately the age of 20, this number of fat cells plateaux and become fixed into adulthood. Within adulthood, fat gain is a result of volume increases in the cells and surrounding tissues rather than number of fat cells.

In weight loss procedures such as bariatric surgery, an adult’s fat cell volume went down, however, the fat cell number remained the same continuing Professor Walker’s earlier claim.

The results also found a favourable inflammatory status is associated with better metabolic health among obese people, showing a new subclass of obesity. It is now suggested that these two subgroups of obese subjects termed metabolically healthy and metabolically unhealthy can have the same BMI. This increases the limitations of the BMI measurements and poses potential criteria for assessing the metabolically healthy/unhealthy by other means such as waist circumference, insulin resistance and physical fitness.

Circadian rhythm and metabolic dysfunction

Presented by: Dr Jonathan Johnston

Dr Jonathan Johnston from the University of Surrey looked at previous evidence which showed that there have been some inconsistencies within the endocrine literature regarding circadian rhythm and metabolic function. A clear link has now emerged between the biological clock and various aspects of metabolism suggesting that the border between health and disease is closer than we thought. With over 20% of the population having disrupted sleeping patterns due to a range of factors such as shift work and stress, there are concerns about its metabolic effect and in particular the onset of type II diabetes.

The group took 25 subjects which then formed 3 subgroups:

1)    Lean
2)    Obese
3)    Obese with Type II diabetes-obese (T2D)

The study was conducted over a weekend with a fixed meal time (hourly nutrient drink) and fixed sleeping patterns with exposure to light on and light off. Subjects were eliminated if they had a disrupted sleeping pattern during the week prior to the experiment. Firstly it was found there was no difference in circadian rhythm (clock genes) in the T2D obese group.Blood samples were taken and 10 hormones were analysed finding that there were no real differences in plasma hormone levels of leptin or GLP-1 between the weight categories. Results did find that melatonin levels were higher in the ‘normal’ obese than in the T2D obese subjects. There was also an increase in plasma lipid levels found through the night in the obese and obese (T2D) groups.


T2D and bodyweight does not alter clock gene impression within the individual adipose depot.

Previous literature and current results are too simplistic to claim that there is reduced amplitude rhythms in the obese and diabetic populations. With the identification of both genetic and molecular bases in circadian rhythm, there needs to be a study of a longer magnitude than a two day weekend study.


The Randox Research division would like to thank the Physiological Society for organising the conference and giving us the opportunity to support , exhibit and showcase our range of products which have numerous applications in to the field of obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome research.

If you would like to learn more about how the Randox Research division can aid your research studies, download any of our Metabolic and Nutritional and Immunology dedicated brochures or email

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