David Mutch, Professor

Human Health and Nutr Sciences
University of Guelph

Precision Nutrition and Obesity: Opportunities and Challenges

Obesity is a complex disease that stems from interactions between genetics and environmental factors. Due to the heterogenous nature of obesity, general population-based lifestyle interventions aimed at promoting weight loss and/or an improvement in cardiometabolic health have shown mixed efficacy. While hundreds of genetic variants, termed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), have been associated with various body weight phenotypes, their use to predict outcomes in response to a lifestyle intervention remain limited. Moreover, the vast majority of gene × lifestyle studies have not been independently replicated or tested in different subsets of the general population. In addition, it is increasingly recognized that the microbiome is another factor to consider when examining the basis for the different inter-individual responses to a lifestyle intervention. Precision nutrition is an emerging area in the nutritional sciences that moves beyond the use of only SNPs to predict a response, and instead proposes a more holistic approach that considers genetics, the microbiome, and metabolic responses. The goal of this presentation is to highlight recent advances in the area of precision nutrition and obesity, as well as some of the challenges and opportunities that must be addressed to successfully customize dietary interventions for weight management.

Speaker/Chair Bio:

Dr. Mutch is a Professor in the Department of Human Health & Nutritional Sciences at the University of Guelph, Canada. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Lausanne Switzerland, and completed post-doctoral fellowships at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego and the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris. Dr. Mutch leads a nutrigenomics research program that investigates the mechanisms that regulate lipid metabolism in the body, with a major focus on diet-gene interactions in adipose (fat) tissue, skeletal muscle, and liver. His team aims to advance understanding of the genetic and nutritional regulation of fatty acid desaturases (key enzymes involved in endogenous fatty acid synthesis), and their association with cardiometabolic outcomes. Ongoing research in his lab uses cell and rodent models to explore how altered desaturase activity and dietary fatty acids influence cellular processes such as adipogenesis, lipogenesis, and lipolysis. Dr. Mutch also investigates if FADS genes can be used to personalize omega-3 dietary habits to improve an individual’s health and well-being. Dr. Mutch is Editor-in-Chief of Lifestyle Genomics, and has published over 120 peer-reviewed articles in the fields of obesity, fatty acid metabolism and nutrigenomics.