Ireland has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the world. One in four Irish school-going children are either overweight or obese. Research has shown that children who are obese are highly likely to be obese in adulthood. Furthermore, we now know that these children are at a higher risk of developing co-morbid diseases later in life such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and many cancers.
Our NCRC supported research programme focuses on understanding how obesity causes these diseases, and aims to find novel therapeutic strategies for prevention. We have shown that childhood obesity is underpinned by a state of chronic sterile inflammation and immune dysregulation. This dysregulation is like that reported in obese adults who have established co-morbid diseases. This suggests that inflammation is driving the development of these diseases, and therefore targeting inflammation in childhood may prevent our children developing chronic diseases later in life.
Our team is comprised of scientists, paediatricians and adult clinicians from Maynooth University, University College Dublin, St Vincent’s University Hospital and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital.