Principal Investigator - Nutritional Sciences and Human Physiology/Clinical Nutrition Research Center
Mary Chong is currently a Principal Investigator at the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre and Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR and an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Department of Paediatrics at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. A clinical dietitian by training, she pursued her PhD studies at the University of Oxford,U.K. in the area of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, where she conducted feeding studies and used stable isotopes to trace the metabolism of various sugars and lipid fractions. As a post doctoral fellow at the Hugh Sinclair Human Nutrition Unit of the University of Reading, UK, she conducted a large-scale dietary intervention study, investigating the impact of flavonoids in fruit and vegetables on cardiovascular risk markers.
Since returning to Singapore five years ago, Mary has helped to build up the clinical nutritional research capabilities in the area of clinical nutrition research to support ongoing clinical studies. She is the Nutrition Lead for the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study, a mother-offspring cohort study in Singapore and two upcoming cohort studies. She is also co-investigator and collaborator on three adult weight loss dietary intervention studies. Specializing in the area of Nutrition through the Life Course, her main research interests are in maternal and infant nutrition and nutrition related to metabolic diseases and cardiovascular health. She has a special interest in eating behaviour and appetite regulation and has been exploring this aspect in both children and adults in the GUSTO study and weight loss studies respectively.
There is growing interest to elucidate the impact of maternal and early child nutrition on the health outcomes of the mother and child. Besides directly influencing their risk of pregnancy complications, a mother’s diet during pregnancy (and possible prenatally) could influence fetal metabolism through the effect of nutrient availability on early metabolic or epigenetic programming events. This can lead to permanent structural and functional changes in tissues and organs, and setting up the metabolic capacity of the foetus for life. Similarly, dietary intakes during early infancy and early childhood have been suggested to influence risk of childhood obesity and obesity later in life via hormone responses or possibly through early flavor experiences influencing taste preference, food preferences and food intake in later life.
My group’s research focuses on examining maternal and child nutrition, its corresponding dietary patterns and how they provide early flavour experiences on the impact of various maternal and child health outcomes such as pregnancy complications, infant and child growth etc in the early years of life.
Dietary assessments cover a range of methods including dietary recalls and food frequency questionnaires and uses accompanying visual aids of food photographs and portion sizes to facilitate accurate dietary data collection. These resources and a local food composition database containing foods commonly consumed by mothers, infants and children, have been built up by the group since 2010. In addition, working in collaboration with the Neurocognitive domain in GUSTO, our group has extended our expertise to conduct experimental studies for examining eating behavior and taste preferences via the use of ad libitum meals and snack tests. We continue to collaborate with other domains within GUSTO and across other national and international institutes to expand our interests.
While some these findings may not be singularly transformational, the progressive and pragmatic impact of our research will further our understanding on ways to optimize diets for the changing needs of the mother and her developing child. In addition, it will create awareness of the importance of a woman’s diet and health and the effects it has on her offspring’s health and those of future generations to come.
Fogel A, Goh AT, Fries LR, Sadananthan SA, Sendhil Velan S, Michael N, Tint MT, Fortier MV, Chan MJ, Toh JY, Chong YS, Tan KH, Yap F, Shek LP, Meaney MJ, Broekman BF, Lee YS, Godfrey KM, Chong MF, Forde CG. ''A description of an 'obesogenic' eating style that promotes higher energy intake and is associated with greater adiposity in 4.5year-old children: Results from the GUSTO cohort''. Physiol Behav. 14 Feb 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.02.013.
Chen LW, Aris IM, Bernard JY, Tint MT, Chia A, Colega M, Gluckman PD, Shek LP, Saw SM, Chong YS, Yap F, Godfrey KM, van Dam RM, Chong MF, Lee YS. ''Associations of Maternal Dietary Patterns during Pregnancy with Offspring Adiposity from Birth Until 54 Months of Age''. Nutrients. 22 Dec 2016. 9(1):E2. doi: 10.3390/nu9010002.
Loy SL, Chan JK, Wee PH, Colega MT, Cheung YB, Godfrey KM, Kwek K, Saw SM, Chong YS, Natarajan P, Müller-Riemenschneider F, Lek N, Chong MF, Yap F. ''Maternal Circadian Eating Time and Frequency Are Associated with Blood Glucose Concentrations during Pregnancy''. J Nutr. 19 Oct 2016. 147(1):70-77. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.239392.
Chia AR, de Seymour JV, Colega M, Chen LW, Chan YH, Aris IM, Tint MT, Quah PL, Godfrey KM, Yap F, Saw SM, Baker PN, Chong YS, van Dam RM, Lee YS, Chong MF. ''A vegetable, fruit, and white rice dietary pattern during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of preterm birth and larger birth size in a multiethnic Asian cohort: the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) study''. Am J Clin Nutr. 12 Oct 2016. 104(5):1416-1423. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.133892.
van Lee L, Tint MT, Aris IM, Quah PL, Fortier MV, Lee YS, Yap FK, Saw SM, Godfrey KM, Gluckman PD, Chong YS, Kramer MS, Chong MF. ''Prospective associations of maternal betaine status with offspring weight and body composition at birth: the GUSTO (Growing Up in Singapore Toward healthy Outcomes) cohort study''. Am J Clin Nutr. 21 Sep 2016. 104(5):1327-1333. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.138818.
de Seymour J, Chia A, Colega M, Jones B, McKenzie E, Shirong C, Godfrey K, Kwek K, Saw SM, Conlon C, Chong YS, Baker P, Chong MF. ''Maternal Dietary Patterns and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in a Multi-Ethnic Asian Cohort: The GUSTO Study''. Nutrients. 20 Sep 2016. 8(9):E574. doi: 10.3390/nu8090574.
Li LJ, Ong PG, Colega MT, Han CY, Chen LW, Man Eyn Kidd R, Lamoureux E, Gluckman P, Kwek K, Chong YS, Saw SM, Godfrey KM, Wong TY, Chong MF. ''The Impact of Macronutrients on Retinal Microvasculature among Singapore Pregnant Women during the Mid-Late Gestation''. PLoS One. 10 Aug 2016. 11(8):e0160704. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160704.
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