Innovative research collaboration tackles nutrition

Innovative research collaboration tackles nutrition

Are all calories really equal with respect to metabolism and weight change? New Nutrition Science Initiative aims to answer this question.

Are all calories really equal with respect to metabolism and weight change? The Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI) announced the launch of a new collaboration aimed at unambiguously answering this question, by testing the competing hypotheses of obesity and weight gain.

Six independent health and human nutrition scientists from America's leading biomedical research institutions will soon begin research through highly specialized, rigorous inpatient studies. Leading the collaboration are co-principal investigators Kevin Hall, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health, NIDDK and Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Pennington Biomedical Research Center.  Co-Investigators are Marc Reitman, M.D., Ph.D., National Institutes of Health, NIDDK; Steven R. Smith, M.D., Florida Hospital – Sanford-Burnham Translational Research Institute; and Rudolph Leibel, M.D. and Michael Rosenbaum, M.D., both of Columbia University Medical Center.

"As a consortium, we are in the process of designing a novel study, which represents a shift in paradigm, and may help to explain why people gain weight in our present food environment," said Dr. Ravussin. 

NuSI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the economic and social burden of obesity and obesity-related chronic disease by improving the quality of science in nutrition and obesity research. NuSI was launched in 2012 with nearly $40 million in support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and other generous supporters. "With nearly 4,000 people dying every day in the United States from metabolic-related disease, we need a new approach, a new perspective, strategic funding, and a willingness to aggressively seek new information to remedy these issues," said Peter Attia, M.D., NuSI's president and cofounder.

"The research, designed by this team of experts and funded by NuSI, will answer key scientific questions that have the potential to change our understanding of the optimal diet," said Dr. Smith. 

The first step that NuSI-funded scientists will take is to develop a pilot study testing two competing hypotheses with regard to the role of diet composition on weight loss. These results will determine what future experiments are needed to best understand the mechanisms at work underlying the obesity epidemic. 

"The issue of the role of diet composition per se in energy homeostasis is a persistent one that has led to the promulgation of numerous diets based on tenuous or non-existent evidence. The proposed studies will address the relevant biology in a way that should lead to definitive answers to important questions in this ongoing debate," added Dr. Leibel. 

"I am very proud to be a part of this talented research team," said Dr. Rosenbaum. "NuSI has facilitated the multi-institutional pooling of our diverse expertise and resources to definitively examine the role of diet macronutrient composition in energy balance. After extensive discussion, review, and revision, we are now ready to begin."

For more information on NuSI and its research, visit 


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