Metabolism and Obesity

According to the Center for Disease Control (2015-2016 data) the prevalence of obesity is 39.6% for US adults. The health care costs associated with obesity are estimated at over $147 billion annually due to associated chronic metabolic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Research to clarify relationships between dietary intake of both macronutrients and micronutrients and the risk of metabolic disease is a major need for public health. It is also important to understand why chronic positive energy balance and obesity are associated with disease risks. The total amount of food eaten, or energy intake, in relation to energy expenditure, has a significant impact on metabolism and health. Nutrition scientists in the 21st Century also appreciate that subcomponents within dietary fats, carbohydrates and proteins have distinctive effects on weight management and metabolic health outcomes. In addition, adequate dietary intake of micronutrients such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium profoundly affect cardiometabolic health. In real life, people eat foods, and nutrients act in combination, thus interventions to address metabolic diseases should incorporate dietary patterns to promote health. Successful nutritional interventions will also include strategies that target taste, flavor and satiety and thereby modify dietary behavior. Researchers in the Department of Nutrition Science, in collaboration with colleagues on campus and at other institutions, conduct cutting-edge research in these areas and support the training of preeminant researchers and practitioners to meet the health care needs of the community, state, and region.

Contributors in the Department


Purdue Extension Educators are partnering with community groups to create coalitions to identify and address local issues concerning health and wellness. Over 60 Indiana counties now have health coalitions engaged in addressing health issues, including obesity.

The biannual Ingestive Behavior Research Center (IBRC) Symposium serves as an engagement event with a limited audience as a means to facilitate candid discourse among the invited participants.


Issues and concepts of research relevant to this signature area permeate the curriculum.  For example, lectures and activities within undergraduate courses build knowledge and teach assessment skills related to energy balance, ingestive behavior, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer across the curriculum.  In the graduate program, in addition to topics related to metabolism and obesity being covered in our first year “core course” series, specialty courses in obesity, adipocyte biology, lipids and cell function, and ingestive behavior are options for students. In addition, graduate students can earn a concentration in Ingestive Behavior through the Ingestive Behavior Research Center (IBRC).

Department of Nutrition Science, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059 (765) 494-8228, Fax: (765) 494-0674

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