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Facts: The new Danish-Californian food consortium

Fact sheet for press release "New Danish-Californian Consortium for Healthier Foods About to Start"

A steering committee with representatives from both Denmark and California is now about to develop a road map that will point out the most important research potentials and also investigate how the available R&D resources of the participating research institutes may best be combined.

In the spring, a white paper for publication in the New York Academy of Sciences is to present the research areas and also make political recommendations on focus areas in the correlation between health, obesity, and foods.

The consortium will also include exchange students and an Entrepreneurship Academy with focus on creating new enterprises within the food area.

The consortium will initially be funded through UC Davis and the Centre for Advanced Food Studies, but is also planning to apply for EU funding and financial support from Danish and Californian foundations and councils.

University of California

California has the largest agricultural sector in the United States and the world's sixth largest economy. For many years, the University of California at Davis has been the undisputed leader within research in areas such as agricultural optimisation and the correlation between lifestyle diseases and food.

So the new Foods for Health Institute at UC Davis is focusing on food as an essential factor behind the soaring US healthcare expenditure of DKK 10,000 billion a year.

Under the UC university system, there are ten universities in all, including UC Berkeley and UCLA, which will also be involved in the consortium

Centre for Advanced Food Studies

The Centre for Advanced Food Studies is a virtual centre, a centre without walls, intended to coordinate food-related research in Denmark. Food research is undertaken by the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark, the University of Aarhus and the University of Southern Denmark.

The Centre's strategy covers four areas: research, education, innovation and providing input to the government.

The Danish delegation

The Danish delegation of researchers to the UC Davis Centennial Symposia is funded by the Danish Council for Strategic Research and includes representatives from the University of Copenhagen, the University of Aarhus, the University of Southern Denmark, the Technical University of Denmark, and the DHI Group.

The Centre for Advanced Food Studies coordinated the delegation and will also be the prime mover in developing the consortium.

Obesity in Denmark and the United States

In the United States, 34 per cent of the population is suffering from obesity (defined as a Body Mass Index of more than 30), while the Danish percentage is 16. TThe number of extremely obese people in the United States (BMI of more than 40) is ten times that of Denmark.

While the development of obesity has stagnated in Denmark since 2002, the same is not the case in the United States. Here, 86 per cent of the population will be overweight or obese in 2030 if the tide is not turned.

Furthermore, this will result in every sixth dollar in the US healthcare system being spent on treatments with a direct correlation to overweight and obesity in 2030.

Planned Danish-Californian research projects

Disease-preventing antioxidants

New results from UC Davis show that natural antioxidants from wine and grape shells prevent disease because of complex mechanisms that extend beyond their effect as antioxidants.

This knowledge will now be used in a project where UC Davis, the University of Aarhus, and the Technical University of Denmark will work together to investigate specific antioxidant structures in a pig model.

Macronutrients' role in the development of new fat cells

At the Symposia, Danish research showed how the content of protein and carbohydrates impacts the effect of polyunsaturated fatty acids and how a protein-rich diet prevents the development of fat-induced obesity.

This research has led to a joint project with Dr. John W. Newman, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, UC Davis; the project will investigate how the diet's content of the so-called macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) affects the amount and type of fat in blood and adipose tissue, and how this affects the function and development of new fat cells.

The collaboration will include experiments at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center and the University of Copenhagen, and it has already been planned that a PhD student from UC Davis will work at the University of Copenhagen for a certain period.

Metabolism of fatty acids in single immune cells

Absorption and metabolism of different fatty acids are of great importance to the development and function of immune cells. At UC Davis, cardiologist John Rutledge and physicist Thomas Huser have developed a method that makes it possible to follow these processes in a living immune cell.

In a collaboration between UC Davis, the University of Copenhagen, and the Technical University of Denmark this method will be used to gain a better insight into how different fatty acids affect a type of immune cells (monocytes) that is very important for the development of arteriosclerosis.

Among other things, the results may be used to enhance the understanding of how different types of fat in a diet have different effects on the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

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last modified December 15, 2022