China crisis: Tackling diabetes
Diabetes isn’t just a western problem these days. Perhaps you’ve read about recent trials that indicated omega 3 fatty acids like the ones manufactured by DSM could help type 2 Chinese sufferers. Or the follow-up research in the Scientific Reports journal? Or maybe you read in the New York Times about the link that Chinese researchers have made between high blood pressure in pregnant mothers and obesity rates in the children? If you have, the chances are that one extraordinary young scientist is behind it…
In China a vast new middle class has abandoned its bicycles for cars and is using its newfound wealth to supplement rice & vegetables with red meat.
The result: A sharp rise in diabetes type 2. The solution…could well be omega 3 fatty acid according to Cambridge University post-doctoral research fellow and past winner of the DSM Science & Technology Award, Dr Zheng Ju-Sheng.
Specifically he organized a clinical trial involving 185 diabetics spread the length and breadth of China to try and prove the effectiveness of omega 3 in treating diabetes 2 and possibly even cardiovascular disease.
Participants were randomized into three groups and took fish oil (a source of marine-derived omega-3), flaxseed oil (a source of plant-derived omega-3) and corn oil (as a control supplement) respectively for six months.
“The results indicated what we had hoped. Omega 3 has the potential to benefit both diabetes and diabetic complications,” he says (which makes the work of DSM’s own Norman Salem in developing algal-based oils even more important should, as seems likely, worldwide demand for Omega 3 continue to rise).
The work of Ju-Sheng and his colleagues have been published in various journals including the influential Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, as well as The New York Times – which featured his eye-opening research into childhood obesity and its link to high pressure during pregnancy.
“We found that the majority of women who are not hypertensive are still at risk when their blood pressure increases even to levels not generally considered dangerous - and there is still that obesity risk to offspring.”
He continues: “The human body works in mysterious ways. It's another challenge we have to face – and I’m sure that a science community – and a society - we’ll solve it.”