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In searching for biological origins of obesity, Louisiana lab goes back to the beginning of life

In searching for biological origins of obesity, Louisiana lab goes back to the beginning of life

Can metabolism change? A Louisiana lab is studying newborns to determine whether metabolism is set from birth and can predict obesity and how people lose weight.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Tiny babies as young as two weeks old are shepherded into the Pennington Biomedical Research Center's lab in strollers and car-seat carriers. Some cry, some can't stop wiggling, and others simply sleep during their entire visit.  

Their job is easy: hang out while scientists take careful measurements of their body fat and metabolism.

"We think that by studying babies, we can really get to the biology of obesity," said Leanne Redman, who directs the maternal and infant research lab at Pennington here at Louisiana State University. It's the only lab in the world equipped to study the metabolism of newborns. That is, how their tiny bodies burn energy, or calories.

Redman believes that by studying metabolism in the first weeks of life — long before a person's weight is influenced by outside factors like the foods they are fed or choose to eat — the lab will uncover the biological basis of obesity. Newborns don't exercise, and their diets are comprised solely of breastmilk or formula.

Leanne Redman, left, director of the maternal and infant research lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, holds Jameson, son of Julie Hardee. Kathleen Flynn for NBC NewsThe theory is that a person's "metabolic fingerprint" is set for life at birth, she said. Decoding that fingerprint could ultimately lead to personalized interventions for children at risk for obesity.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/metabolism-set-birth-researchers-are-studying-newborns-understand-scie-rcna31872


Post ID: 7837140f-f234-4dd4-93be-f4d020fb33f9
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Updated: 1 week ago

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