Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

More and more people are overweight or obese (in The Netherlands, 50 and 11 percent). This is associated with a high incidence of morbidity, above all diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction, ischaemic stroke, peripheral artery disease, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Obesity may also lead to other disabling disorders such as osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, and is related to stress, anxiety and depression.

Insights into how obesity leads to these diseases are only just emerging. It is becoming clear that the fat cell is a potent regulator of signalling networks that affect whole body metabolism. These systemic effects include inflammation, hypercoagulability and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. The central theme of this study therefore is the toxic effect of adipose tissue. Because common diseases occur more often in the obese than in the non-obese, our study of obese individuals will enable modelling of pathophysiologic pathways and their interactions. We will investigate how obesity affects major systemic responses leading to disease, and how the effects of obesity are influenced by individual and environmental factors. This will further our understanding of disease aetiology in obese and non-obese individuals alike.

The NEO Study (Netherlands Epidemiology of Obesity Study) is a prospective cohort study that will include 6000 overweight and obese individuals from the general population, aged 45-65, who will undergo extensive state-of-the-art measurements at inclusion and who will be followed for the occurrence of clinical disease. The aim is two-fold: firstly, to answer specific research questions, as outlined by the participants in the work packages, in order to document pathophysiology, and secondly to build a resource for future ancillary studies.