News at Medicine - April 2016 - Memorial leads the way in cutting-edge obesity research

Memorial leads the way in cutting-edge obesity research
April 4, 2016
In 2014, just over 40 per cent of Canadians were self-reportedly overweight or obese. Dr. Pardis Pedram, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University reported that Newfoundland has one of the highest rates of obesity in Canada.
She continued, “We know obesity is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, a dozen of cancers and also other negative consequences related to obesity”. This is a significant concern not only for the province’s citizens, but also its health professionals.

At Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine, research is currently being conducted to address these concerns, and to develop a further understanding of possible causes and to perform more effective treatment and prevention of obesity. Dr. Guang Sun, professor of medicine and head of the Complex Diseases Laboratory, explains that, “the current research work of my team has been focusing on is the endocrine, genetic and nutritional factors in the development of human obesity and diabetes in the Newfoundland population. One of the frontier works we are performing is the endocrine, genetic and nutritional factors in the development of human food addiction and its role in the common form of human obesity”. Currently, Dr. Pedram is under the supervision of Dr. Sun, and is focusing her research efforts on genetic links to food addiction, and the correlation between food addiction and obesity. 
The Faculty of Medicine is outfitted with advanced equipment to aid researchers like Drs. Sun and Pedram and helps them achieve their goals. When conducting medical research such as this, precision is critical in order to obtain accurate results. The technology used in Dr. Sun’s lab helps ensure that the data collected is precise. The DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry) scanner is one of the pieces of equipment used. It is a machine used to “measure percentage of body fat which is more accurate than BMI (Body Mass Index) and weight” according to Dr. Pedram.



As for the results of the research being conducted in this lab, they could have many positive implications in the future. A better understanding of obesity, “a very complex disease” according to Dr. Pedram, will come from this research. She explains further that it may even be used help predict if individuals will be obese in the future, and can aid in the prevention of childhood obesity leading to continued obesity in adulthood. The prevention of obesity will greatly improve the overall health of Canadians. In addition, this research could potentially lead to future treatments for obesity and ailments associated with it.