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Innovating behaviour and health surveillance for cardiovascular disease prevention in Malaysia

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--Newton-MR_T018984_1
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In Malaysia the prevalence of obesity among adolescents is increasing and non-communicable diseases, like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, account for two out of three deaths. While research in European and US-based populations has found that particular lifestyle factors might cause adolescents to be fatter and less fit we do not have a complete picture of what causes these problems in Malaysia. In this study we are going to look at how different lifestyle factors, like foods eaten, timing or frequency of eating, physical activity, sedentary behaviours and their timing or location, relate to whether adolescents have good health. We plan to use a reproducible laboratory technique, known as metabolomics, to measure 150 different components of blood that indicate a range of metabolic processes. This will help us find out in much more detail than ever before how behaviour leads to better cardiovascular health via metabolic pathways. When we know more about the pathway that leads from lifestyle to disease we will be better able to predict who will stay healthy and who will not. This research is possible because of an ongoing large community study including over 6000 adolescents, called SEACO, in Segamat, Malaysia. The aim of SEACO is to monitor changes in population health using annual surveys. Data collection started in 2012 and is repeated yearly from over 13000 households. The participants have already had measurements of their height and weight at two previous times, which we will use to look at how body size changes in different groups. We will approach children in the cohort at school to collect samples of blood and urine and ask them to wear an activity monitor on their wrist for 7 days. In a smaller selection of the sample we'll measure metabolic components in urine and see if they can tell us about what foods have been eaten recently. We also give a small group of children a smartwatch to ask them regular questions about eating so we can explore the possibility of measuring eating behaviour using the activity monitors without have to ask in future. We are interested to see whether lifestyle behaviours are associated with changes in the blood chemical profile of participants before they develop clear symptoms of cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Finally, within this project we will lay the foundations for improving the measurement of food intake to make methods passive, rather than relying on participants to tell you every time they eat.


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