Food Structure and Human Nutrition

The primary aim of our research team is to provide evidence based science to develop “Food as the New Medicine”. Our main focus is on glycaemic control, energy regulation and human fat and protein deposition. The overarching theme is to understand how the structure and sensory properties of food can be manipulated to modulate glycemic and lipidemic response, alter nutrients absorption and influence food intake and energy expenditure.

Nutritional Endocrinology

Our research focus is on brown adipose tissue, thermogenesis and the browning of white adipocytes. We investigate the effects of brown adipose tissue on human energy metabolism using non-invasive imaging and calorimetry. Our research team aims to elucidate nutritional approaches that drive brown fat development and activation, to achieve better health.

Nutritional Physiology

Understanding the effects of nutrition and physical activity on human health and disease by conducting innovative translational research at the interface of biochemistry, metabolism, and physiology. Our team is particularly interested in studying the role of nutrition and exercise on metabolic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and lipid disorders, which are highly prevalent in Asia and around the globe. The team uses a variety of tools to assess human metabolic function in vivo, including, the oral and intravenous glucose tolerance tests in conjunction with mathematical modelling to evaluate glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and pancreatic beta cell function (insulin secretion); the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp technique to determine glucose uptake (insulin action); dual X ray absorptiometry (DEXA), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to evaluate body composition, fat distribution and ectopic fat deposition; tissue biopsies to unravel cellular metabolic pathways; indirect and direct calorimetry to measure basal metabolic rate, total energy expenditure and diet- and exercise-induced thermogenesis.

Sensory and Ingestive Behaviour

The objective of this team is to understand the sensory and cognitive factors that influence energy selection, intake and regulation. The team focuses on understanding factors that promote sustained positive energy balance with studies that explore portion selection, eating rate and energy compensation in children and adults. The goal is to develop food-based solutions to improve food choice and eating behavioral patterns for health and well-being. To better understand eating behaviors, the team has developed a series of tools for measuring portion selection and the sensory and satiety differences among the Asian phenotypes. The team conducts studies that simultaneously manipulate the sensory properties and energy content of foods and beverages to understand how humans adapt to subsequent food intake behaviours. The team has also developed behavioral coding techniques to study the role of eating micro-structure on habitual energy intake. To explore how children select their portions and develop appetite traits and eating behaviours linked to body composition, the team collaborates with the GUSTO cohort and local pre-schools.

Psychology and Behavior of Nutritional Intake

The objective is to identify contextual factors that regulate appetite, cognitions, and behaviors towards food choice and nutrition, and ultimately health and well-being. In particular, the team seeks to identify social-environmental influences that dysregulate energy balance by stimulating appetite and promoting obesogenic behavioral patterns (e.g., selection of calorie-dense foods or large portion sizes). Another goal of the team is to identify how these contextual factors may be targeted and shaped to promote healthier eating behaviors and habits. To achieve these objectives, we rely on diverse tools and methods, such as experimental manipulations of psychological and motivational states, reaction-time-based measures of automatic preferences and attitudes, physiological measures of appetite (e.g., gut peptides), and diverse behavioral assessments of food selection and intake.