'A multifaceted problem requires a multifaceted response'

January 12, 2007

The chair of Dundee's new obesity research group is starting a study of diet, exercise and cancer recurrence

Many people may be regretting overeating over the festive season, but for Annie Anderson, issues surrounding weight and obesity are year-round concerns.

The director of Dundee University's Centre for Public Nutrition Research has just become chair of Dundee's new obesity research group, which unites experts in paediatrics, genetics, neuroscience, nutrition, clinical studies and cultural, social and environmental issues. "A multifaceted problem needs a multifaceted response," she said.

Professor Anderson graduated as a dietician from what is now the Robert Gordon University before taking a post at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. "But after great soul-searching, I decided I couldn't be a dietician because I felt I didn't understand the reasons for people's dietary behaviour," she said. At Aberdeen University, her PhD on pregnant women's response to dietary advice brought together biology and psychology.

After working in the Medical Research Council's medical sociology unit in Glasgow, she moved to Dundee, taking up the chair of food choice in 1997.

This week, as one of three Dundee grant-holders of a World Cancer Research Fund award, she begins a study into how diet and lifestyle affect cancer survivors. Research has shown a link between bowel cancer and being overweight and inactive. The study will advise overweight patients aged over 50, who are at most risk of the disease recurring, on diet and exercise. "We are using a combination of information, behaviour-change skills and social support to try to encourage positive lifestyle changes."

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