New nutritional research centre to come up with bread to reduce blood sugar

A new nutritional studies centre dedicated to studying diseases common in modern society like obesity and diabetes has officially opened here. Costing some $20 million, the Clinical Nutritional Research Centre is researching ways to reduce appetites
A new nutritional studies centre dedicated to studying diseases common in modern society like obesity and diabetes has officially opened here. Costing some $20 million, the Clinical Nutritional Research Centre is researching ways to reduce appetites and control body weight. -- PHOTO: ZAOBAO  

It sounds like a dieter's dream - bread that can help cut blood sugar levels. This may become a reality if a nutritional research centre launched here on Tuesday finds the formula for such wonder bread.

Developing food that can help consumers reduce appetites and hence maintain or lose weight is part of the work that will be done at the $20 million Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC), said its director Jeyakumar Henry at its opening.

Touted as Asia's first "under-one-roof nutritional research centre", the centre will look at diseases common in modern society like obesity and diabetes. It will also study nutrition in women, children and the elderly.

A joint venture between the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) and the National University Health Systems, it is focusing on obesity and diabetes as these two diseases are prevalent in Singapore's adult population.

A survey by the Health Ministry in 2010 found that 10 out of every 100 Singaporeans were obese, up from six in 1998, while 11.3 per cent of the population was diabetic, up from 9 per cent.

The centre will combine "whole body nutrition research with the understanding of Asian dietary habits", said A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh at the CNRC's opening at the National University of Singapore (NUS) on Tuesday.

"This enables the creation of new food solutions to address Asian health and disease vulnerabilities," he added.

It will have facilities like a "calorimeter" that measures an individual's energy intake and output, laboratories and booths for sensory food analysis and a product development kitchen.

Speaking at the centre's opening, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said the university is looking to offer a postgraduate programme in nutritional sciences, to develop more talent for the food and nutrition sector here.

The CNRC's opening comes after A*Star inked a wide-ranging three-year agreement with food giant Nestle last week to get scientists from both sides to conduct research on ingredients and the connections between diet and disease.