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Little is known about who would benefit from Internet-based personalised nutrition (PN) interventions. This study aimed to evaluate the characteristics of participants who achieved greatest improvements (i.e. benefit) in diet, adiposity and biomarkers following an Internet-based PN intervention. Adults (n 1607) from seven European countries were recruited into a 6-month, randomised controlled trial (Food4Me) and randomised to receive conventional dietary advice (control) or PN advice. Information on dietary intake, adiposity, physical activity (PA), blood biomarkers and participant characteristics was collected at baseline and month 6. Benefit from the intervention was defined as ≥5 % change in the primary outcome (Healthy Eating Index) and secondary outcomes (waist circumference and BMI, PA, sedentary time and plasma concentrations of cholesterol, carotenoids and omega-3 index) at month 6. For our primary outcome, benefit from the intervention was greater in older participants, women and participants with lower HEI scores at baseline. Benefit was greater for individuals reporting greater self-efficacy for ‘sticking to healthful foods’ and who ‘felt weird if [they] didn’t eat healthily’. Participants benefited more if they reported wanting to improve their health and well-being. The characteristics of individuals benefiting did not differ by other demographic, health-related, anthropometric or genotypic characteristics. Findings were similar for secondary outcomes. These findings have implications for the design of more effective future PN intervention studies and for tailored nutritional advice in public health and clinical settings.
The main objective of “Lifebrain” is to identify the determinants of brain, cognitive and mental (BCM) health at different stages of life. By integrating, harmonising and enriching major European neuroimaging studies across the life span, we will merge fine-grained BCM health measures of more than 5000 individuals. Longitudinal brain imaging, genetic and health data are available for a major part, as well as cognitive and mental health measures for the broader cohorts, exceeding 27,000 examinations in total. By linking these data to other databases and biobanks, including birth registries, national and regional archives, and by enriching them with a new online data collection and novel measures, we will address the risk factors and protective factors of BCM health. We will identify pathways through which risk and protective factors work and their moderators. Exploiting existing European infrastructures and initiatives, we hope to make major conceptual, methodological and analytical contributions towards large integrative cohorts and their efficient exploitation. We will thus provide novel information on BCM health maintenance, as well as the onset and course of BCM disorders. This will lay a foundation for earlier diagnosis of brain disorders, aberrant development and decline of BCM health, and translate into future preventive and therapeutic strategies. Aiming to improve clinical practice and public health we will work with stakeholders and health authorities, and thus provide the evidence base for prevention and intervention.
FFQ, food diaries and 24 h recall methods represent the most commonly used dietary assessment tools in human studies on nutrition and health, but food intake biomarkers are assumed to provide a more objective reflection of intake. Unfortunately, very few of these biomarkers are sufficiently validated. This review provides an overview of food intake biomarker research and highlights present research efforts of the Joint Programming Initiative ‘A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life’ (JPI-HDHL) Food Biomarkers Alliance (FoodBAll). In order to identify novel food intake biomarkers, the focus is on new food metabolomics techniques that allow the quantification of up to thousands of metabolites simultaneously, which may be applied in intervention and observational studies. As biomarkers are often influenced by various other factors than the food under investigation, FoodBAll developed a food intake biomarker quality and validity score aiming to assist the systematic evaluation of novel biomarkers. Moreover, to evaluate the applicability of nutritional biomarkers, studies are presently also focusing on associations between food intake biomarkers and diet-related disease risk. In order to be successful in these metabolomics studies, knowledge about available electronic metabolomics resources is necessary and further developments of these resources are essential. Ultimately, present efforts in this research area aim to advance quality control of traditional dietary assessment methods, advance compliance evaluation in nutritional intervention studies, and increase the significance of observational studies by investigating associations between nutrition and health.
Traditionally, personalised nutrition was delivered at an individual level. However, the concept of delivering tailored dietary advice at a group level through the identification of metabotypes or groups of metabolically similar individuals has emerged. Although this approach to personalised nutrition looks promising, further work is needed to examine this concept across a wider population group. Therefore, the objectives of this study are to: (1) identify metabotypes in a European population and (2) develop targeted dietary advice solutions for these metabotypes. Using data from the Food4Me study (n 1607), k-means cluster analysis revealed the presence of three metabolically distinct clusters based on twenty-seven metabolic markers including cholesterol, individual fatty acids and carotenoids. Cluster 2 was identified as a metabolically healthy metabotype as these individuals had the highest Omega-3 Index (6·56 (sd 1·29) %), carotenoids (2·15 (sd 0·71) µm) and lowest total saturated fat levels. On the basis of its fatty acid profile, cluster 1 was characterised as a metabolically unhealthy cluster. Targeted dietary advice solutions were developed per cluster using a decision tree approach. Testing of the approach was performed by comparison with the personalised dietary advice, delivered by nutritionists to Food4Me study participants (n 180). Excellent agreement was observed between the targeted and individualised approaches with an average match of 82 % at the level of delivery of the same dietary message. Future work should ascertain whether this proposed method could be utilised in a healthcare setting, for the rapid and efficient delivery of tailored dietary advice solutions.
Individual response to dietary interventions can be highly variable. The phenotypic characteristics of those who will respond positively to personalised dietary advice are largely unknown. The objective of this study was to compare the phenotypic profiles of differential responders to personalised dietary intervention, with a focus on total circulating cholesterol. Subjects from the Food4Me multi-centre study were classified as responders or non-responders to dietary advice on the basis of the change in cholesterol level from baseline to month 6, with lower and upper quartiles defined as responder and non-responder groups, respectively. There were no significant differences between demographic and anthropometric profiles of the groups. Furthermore, with the exception of alcohol, there was no significant difference in reported dietary intake, at baseline. However, there were marked differences in baseline fatty acid profiles. The responder group had significantly higher levels of stearic acid (18 : 0, P=0·034) and lower levels of palmitic acid (16 : 0, P=0·009). Total MUFA (P=0·016) and total PUFA (P=0·008) also differed between the groups. In a step-wise logistic regression model, age, baseline total cholesterol, glucose, five fatty acids and alcohol intakes were selected as factors that successfully discriminated responders from non-responders, with sensitivity of 82 % and specificity of 83 %. The successful delivery of personalised dietary advice may depend on our ability to identify phenotypes that are responsive. The results demonstrate the potential use of metabolic profiles in identifying response to an intervention and could play an important role in the development of precision nutrition.
To characterise clusters of individuals based on adherence to dietary recommendations and to determine whether changes in Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores in response to a personalised nutrition (PN) intervention varied between clusters.
Food4Me study participants were clustered according to whether their baseline dietary intakes met European dietary recommendations. Changes in HEI scores between baseline and month 6 were compared between clusters and stratified by whether individuals received generalised or PN advice.
Individuals in cluster 1 (C1) met all recommended intakes except for red meat, those in cluster 2 (C2) met two recommendations, and those in cluster 3 (C3) and cluster 4 (C4) met one recommendation each. C1 had higher intakes of white fish, beans and lentils and low-fat dairy products and lower percentage energy intake from SFA (P<0·05). C2 consumed less chips and pizza and fried foods than C3 and C4 (P<0·05). C1 were lighter, had lower BMI and waist circumference than C3 and were more physically active than C4 (P<0·05). More individuals in C4 were smokers and wanted to lose weight than in C1 (P<0·05). Individuals who received PN advice in C4 reported greater improvements in HEI compared with C3 and C1 (P<0·05).
The cluster where the fewest recommendations were met (C4) reported greater improvements in HEI following a 6-month trial of PN whereas there was no difference between clusters for those randomised to the Control, non-personalised dietary intervention.
To characterise participants who dropped out of the Food4Me Proof-of-Principle study.
The Food4Me study was an Internet-based, 6-month, four-arm, randomised controlled trial. The control group received generalised dietary and lifestyle recommendations, whereas participants randomised to three different levels of personalised nutrition (PN) received advice based on dietary, phenotypic and/or genotypic data, respectively (with either more or less frequent feedback).
Seven recruitment sites: UK, Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Poland and Greece.
Adults aged 18–79 years (n 1607).
A total of 337 (21 %) participants dropped out during the intervention. At baseline, dropouts had higher BMI (0·5 kg/m2; P<0·001). Attrition did not differ significantly between individuals receiving generalised dietary guidelines (Control) and those randomised to PN. Participants were more likely to drop out (OR; 95 % CI) if they received more frequent feedback (1·81; 1·36, 2·41; P<0·001), were female (1·38; 1·06, 1·78; P=0·015), less than 45 years old (2·57; 1·95, 3·39; P<0·001) and obese (2·25; 1·47, 3·43; P<0·001). Attrition was more likely in participants who reported an interest in losing weight (1·53; 1·19, 1·97; P<0·001) or skipping meals (1·75; 1·16, 2·65; P=0·008), and less likely if participants claimed to eat healthily frequently (0·62; 0·45, 0·86; P=0·003).
Attrition did not differ between participants receiving generalised or PN advice but more frequent feedback was related to attrition for those randomised to PN interventions. Better strategies are required to minimise dropouts among younger and obese individuals participating in PN interventions and more frequent feedback may be an unnecessary burden.
The interplay between the fat mass- and obesity-associated (FTO) gene variants and diet has been implicated in the development of obesity. The aim of the present analysis was to investigate associations between FTO genotype, dietary intakes and anthropometrics among European adults. Participants in the Food4Me randomised controlled trial were genotyped for FTO genotype (rs9939609) and their dietary intakes, and diet quality scores (Healthy Eating Index and PREDIMED-based Mediterranean diet score) were estimated from FFQ. Relationships between FTO genotype, diet and anthropometrics (weight, waist circumference (WC) and BMI) were evaluated at baseline. European adults with the FTO risk genotype had greater WC (AAv. TT: +1·4 cm; P=0·003) and BMI (+0·9 kg/m2; P=0·001) than individuals with no risk alleles. Subjects with the lowest fried food consumption and two copies of the FTO risk variant had on average 1·4 kg/m2 greater BMI (Ptrend=0·028) and 3·1 cm greater WC (Ptrend=0·045) compared with individuals with no copies of the risk allele and with the lowest fried food consumption. However, there was no evidence of interactions between FTO genotype and dietary intakes on BMI and WC, and thus further research is required to confirm or refute these findings.
The application of metabolomics in multi-centre studies is increasing. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of geographical location on the metabolic profiles of individuals with the metabolic syndrome. Blood and urine samples were collected from 219 adults from seven European centres participating in the LIPGENE project (Diet, genomics and the metabolic syndrome: an integrated nutrition, agro-food, social and economic analysis). Nutrient intakes, BMI, waist:hip ratio, blood pressure, and plasma glucose, insulin and blood lipid levels were assessed. Plasma fatty acid levels and urine were assessed using a metabolomic technique. The separation of three European geographical groups (NW, northwest; NE, northeast; SW, southwest) was identified using partial least-squares discriminant analysis models for urine (R2X: 0·33, Q2: 0·39) and plasma fatty acid (R2X: 0·32, Q2: 0·60) data. The NW group was characterised by higher levels of urinary hippurate and N-methylnicotinate. The NE group was characterised by higher levels of urinary creatine and citrate and plasma EPA (20 : 5 n-3). The SW group was characterised by higher levels of urinary trimethylamine oxide and lower levels of plasma EPA. The indicators of metabolic health appeared to be consistent across the groups. The SW group had higher intakes of total fat and MUFA compared with both the NW and NE groups (P≤ 0·001). The NE group had higher intakes of fibre and n-3 and n-6 fatty acids compared with both the NW and SW groups (all P< 0·001). It is likely that differences in dietary intakes contributed to the separation of the three groups. Evaluation of geographical factors including diet should be considered in the interpretation of metabolomic data from multi-centre studies.
Choline and betaine are nutrients involved in one-carbon metabolism. Choline is essential for neurodevelopment and brain function. We studied the associations between cognitive function and plasma concentrations of free choline and betaine. In a cross-sectional study, 2195 subjects (55 % women), aged 70–74 years, underwent extensive cognitive testing including the Kendrick Object Learning Test (KOLT), Trail Making Test (part A, TMT-A), modified versions of the Digit Symbol Test (m-DST), Block Design (m-BD), Mini-Mental State Examination (m-MMSE) and Controlled Oral Word Association Test (COWAT). Compared with low concentrations, high choline (>8·4 μmol/l) was associated with better test scores in the TMT-A (56·0 v. 61·5, P= 0·004), m-DST (10·5 v. 9·8, P= 0·005) and m-MMSE (11·5 v. 11·4, P= 0·01). A generalised additive regression model showed a positive dose–response relationship between the m-MMSE and choline (P= 0·012 from a corresponding linear regression model). Betaine was associated with the KOLT, TMT-A and COWAT, but after adjustments for potential confounders, the associations lost significance. Risk ratios (RR) for poor test performance roughly tripled when low choline was combined with either low plasma vitamin B12 ( ≤ 257 pmol/l) concentrations (RRKOLT= 2·6, 95 % CI 1·1, 6·1; RRm-MMSE= 2·7, 95 % CI 1·1, 6·6; RRCOWAT= 3·1, 95 % CI 1·4, 7·2) or high methylmalonic acid (MMA) ( ≥ 3·95 μmol/l) concentrations (RRm-BD= 2·8, 95 % CI 1·3, 6·1). Low betaine ( ≤ 31·1 μmol/l) combined with high MMA was associated with elevated RR on KOLT (RRKOLT= 2·5, 95 % CI 1·0, 6·2). Low plasma free choline concentrations are associated with poor cognitive performance. There were significant interactions between low choline or betaine and low vitamin B12 or high MMA on cognitive performance.
The aim of the present study was to validate the intakes of fruit, juice and vegetables from an FFQ. In sub-study I (n 147), intakes from the FFQ were evaluated against 7 d weighed food records (WR) and plasma carotenoid concentrations, whereas in sub-study II (n 85), the intakes were evaluated against plasma carotenoid concentrations and amounts of flavonoids in 24 h urine samples. Relative validity was evaluated by comparing median intakes, estimating correlation coefficients and validity coefficients using the method of triads. In sub-study I, we observed no significant difference in daily median fruit intake between the FFQ and the WR, whereas the intake of vegetables was higher from the FFQ than from the WR. The correlations between intakes from the FFQ and the WR ranged from 0·31 to 0·58. In sub-study II, the intakes of fruit and vegetables correlated significantly with plasma carotenoid concentrations and urinary flavonoids. The validity coefficients for the intakes of fruit and vegetables from the FFQ ranged from 0·61 to 0·88 in sub-study I and from 0·60 to 0·94 in sub-study II. In summary, based on the associations observed between intakes from the FFQ and the biomarkers and the FFQ validity coefficients, the FFQ was found valid and suitable for ranking individuals according to their usual intake of fruit, juice and vegetables.
Subjects with the metabolic syndrome (MetS) have enhanced oxidative stress and inflammation. Dietary fat quality has been proposed to be implicated in these conditions. We investigated the impact of four diets distinct in fat quantity and quality on 8-iso-PGF2α (a major F2-isoprostane and oxidative stress indicator), 15-keto-13,14-dihydro-PGF2α (15-keto-dihydro-PGF2α, a major PGF2α metabolite and marker of cyclooxygenase-mediated inflammation) and C-reactive protein (CRP). In a 12-week parallel multicentre dietary intervention study (LIPGENE), 417 volunteers with the MetS were randomly assigned to one of the four diets: two high-fat diets (38 % energy (%E)) rich in SFA or MUFA and two low-fat high-complex carbohydrate diets (28 %E) with (LFHCC n-3) or without (LFHCC) 1·24 g/d of very long chain n-3 fatty acid supplementation. Urinary levels of 8-iso-PGF2α and 15-keto-dihydro-PGF2α were determined by RIA and adjusted for urinary creatinine levels. Serum concentration of CRP was measured by ELISA. Neither concentrations of 8-iso-PGF2α and 15-keto-dihydro-PGF2α nor those of CRP differed between diet groups at baseline (P>0·07) or at the end of the study (P>0·44). Also, no differences in changes of the markers were observed between the diet groups (8-iso-PGF2α, P = 0·83; 15-keto-dihydro-PGF2α, P = 0·45; and CRP, P = 0·97). In conclusion, a 12-week dietary fat modification did not affect the investigated markers of oxidative stress and inflammation among subjects with the MetS in the LIPGENE study.
Fruits and vegetables are among the most nutritious and healthy of foods, and are related to the prevention of many chronic diseases. The aim of the study was to examine the relationship between intake of different plant foods and cognitive performance in elderly individuals in a cross-sectional study. Two thousand and thirty-one elderly subjects (aged 70–74 years; 55 % women) recruited from the general population in Western Norway underwent extensive cognitive testing and completed a comprehensive FFQ. The cognitive test battery covered several domains (Kendrick Object Learning Test, Trail Making Test – part A, modified versions of the Digit Symbol Test, Block Design, Mini-Mental State Examination and Controlled Oral Word Association Test). A validated and self-reported FFQ was used to assess habitual food intake. Subjects with intakes of>10th percentile of fruits, vegetables, grain products and mushrooms performed significantly better in cognitive tests than those with very low or no intake. The associations were strongest between cognition and the combined intake of fruits and vegetables, with a marked dose-dependent relationship up to about 500 g/d. The dose-related increase of intakes of grain products and potatoes reached a plateau at about 100–150 g/d, levelling off or decreasing thereafter, whereas the associations were linear for mushrooms. For individual plant foods, the positive cognitive associations of carrots, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits and high-fibre bread were most pronounced. The only negative cognitive association was with increased intake of white bread. In the elderly, a diet rich in plant foods is associated with better performance in several cognitive abilities in a dose-dependent manner.
Hypertension is a key feature of the metabolic syndrome. Lifestyle and dietary changes may affect blood pressure (BP), but the knowledge of the effects of dietary fat modification in subjects with the metabolic syndrome is limited. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of an isoenergetic change in the quantity and quality of dietary fat on BP in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. In a 12-week European multi-centre, parallel, randomised controlled dietary intervention trial (LIPGENE), 486 subjects were assigned to one of the four diets distinct in fat quantity and quality: two high-fat diets rich in saturated fat or monounsaturated fat and two low-fat, high-complex carbohydrate diets with or without 1·2 g/d of very long-chain n-3 PUFA supplementation. There were no overall differences in systolic BP (SBP), diastolic BP or pulse pressure (PP) between the dietary groups after the intervention. The high-fat diet rich in saturated fat had minor unfavourable effects on SBP and PP in males.
Postnatal growth failure in preterm infants is due to interactions between genetic and environmental factors, which are not fully understood. We assessed dietary supply of nutrients in very-low-birth-weight (VLBW, < 1500 g) infants fed fortified human milk, and examined the association between nutrient intake, medical factors and growth during hospitalisation lasting on average 70 d. We studied 127 VLBW infants during the early neonatal period. Data were obtained from medical records on nutrient intake, growth and growth-related factors. Extra-uterine growth restriction was defined as body weight < 10th percentile of the predicted value at discharge. Using logistic regression, we evaluated nutrient intake and other relevant factors associated with extra-uterine growth restriction in the subgroup of VLBW infants with adequate weight for gestational age at birth. The proportion of growth restriction was 33 % at birth and increased to 58 % at discharge from hospital. Recommended values for energy intake (>500 kJ/kg per d) and intra-uterine growth rate (15 g/kg per d) were not met, neither in the period from birth to 28 weeks post-conceptional age (PCA), nor from 37 weeks PCA to discharge. Factors negatively associated with growth restriction were energy intake (Ptrend = 0·002), non-Caucasian ethnicity (P = 0·04) and weight/predicted birth weight at birth (Ptrend = 0·004). Extra-uterine growth restriction is common in VLBW infants fed primarily fortified human milk. Currently recommended energy and nutrient intake for growing preterm infants was not achieved. Reduced energy supply and non-Caucasian ethnicity were risk factors for growth restriction at discharge from hospital.
We evaluated the effects of partly substituting lard with marine n-3 fatty acids (FA) on body composition and weight, adipose tissue distribution and gene expression in five adipose depots of male Wistar rats fed a high-fat diet. Rats were fed diets including lard (19·5 % lard) or n-3 FA (9·1 % lard and 10·4 % Triomar™) for 7 weeks. Feed consumption and weight gain were similar, whereas plasma lipid concentrations were lower in the n-3 FA group. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed smaller visceral (mesenteric, perirenal and epididymal) adipose depots in the n-3 FA-fed animals (35, 44 and 32 % reductions, respectively). n-3 FA feeding increased mRNA expression of cytokines as well as chemokines in several adipose depots. Expression of Adipoq and Pparg was enhanced in the mesenteric adipose depots of the n-3 FA-fed rats, and fasting plasma insulin levels were lowered. Expression of the lipogenic enzymes Acaca and Fasn was increased in the visceral adipose depots, whereas Dgat1 was reduced in the perirenal and epididymal depots. Cpt2 mRNA expression was almost doubled in the mesenteric depot and liver. Carcass analyses showed similar body fat (%) in the two feeding groups, indicating that n-3 FA feeding led to redistribution of fat away from the visceral compartment.
Controlled human intervention trials are required to confirm the hypothesis that dietary fat quality may influence insulin action. The aim was to develop a food-exchange model, suitable for use in free-living volunteers, to investigate the effects of four experimental diets distinct in fat quantity and quality: high SFA (HSFA); high MUFA (HMUFA) and two low-fat (LF) diets, one supplemented with 1·24 g EPA and DHA/d (LFn-3). A theoretical food-exchange model was developed. The average quantity of exchangeable fat was calculated as the sum of fat provided by added fats (spreads and oils), milk, cheese, biscuits, cakes, buns and pastries using data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of UK adults. Most of the exchangeable fat was replaced by specifically designed study foods. Also critical to the model was the use of carbohydrate exchanges to ensure the diets were isoenergetic. Volunteers from eight centres across Europe completed the dietary intervention. Results indicated that compositional targets were largely achieved with significant differences in fat quantity between the high-fat diets (39·9 (sem 0·6) and 38·9 (sem 0·51) percentage energy (%E) from fat for the HSFA and HMUFA diets respectively) and the low-fat diets (29·6 (sem 0·6) and 29·1 (sem 0·5) %E from fat for the LF and LFn-3 diets respectively) and fat quality (17·5 (sem 0·3) and 10·4 (sem 0·2) %E from SFA and 12·7 (sem 0·3) and 18·7 (sem 0·4) %E MUFA for the HSFA and HMUFA diets respectively). In conclusion, a robust, flexible food-exchange model was developed and implemented successfully in the LIPGENE dietary intervention trial.
Established dietary predictors of plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) include folate, riboflavin, and vitamins B6 and B12, while information is scarce regarding other dietary components. The aim of this study was to examine the relation between a variety of food groups, food items and nutrients, and plasma tHcy in a large population-based study. The study population included 5812 men and women aged 47–49 and 71–74 years who completed a 169-item FFQ. tHcy was examined across quartiles of dietary components by multiple linear regression analyses adjusting for age, sex, energy intake, various risk factors for elevated tHcy, as well as for dietary and plasma B-vitamins. Among 4578 non-users of vitamin supplements, intake of vegetables, fruits, cereals, eggs, fish and milk, as well as chicken and non-processed meats were inversely associated with tHcy level. The estimated mean difference in tHcy per increasing quartile of intake ranged from − 0·11 (95 % CI − 0·21, − 0·01) μmol/l for milk to − 0·32 (95 % CI − 0·42, − 0·22) μmol/l for vegetables. Positive associations were found for sweets and cakes. Whole-grain bread was significantly inversely related to tHcy only after additional adjustment for dietary and plasma B-vitamins. The nutrients folate, vitamin B6, B12, and riboflavin were inversely related to tHcy. Complex carbohydrates were inversely, and fat positively associated with tHcy, also after adjustment for dietary and plasma B-vitamins. In conclusion, food items rich in B-vitamins and with a low content of fat and sugar were related to lower tHcy levels. Eggs, chicken, non-processed meat, fish and milk were inversely associated with tHcy.
The importance of adipose tissue in health as well as disease has been demonstrated in several studies recently, and it has become appropriate to use the term ‘adipose organ’ when referring to adipose tissue as a whole. The obesity epidemic, with a marked increase in the incidence of the metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes type 2 as well as cardiovascular complications, has stimulated considerable interest in adipose tissue biology. Moreover, several studies in different species have shown that limited energy intake is associated with less inflammation, improved biomarkers of health and a marked increase in longevity. In addition, there is convincing evidence that an optimal amount of adipose tissue is essential for many body functions such as immune response, reproduction and bone quality. Some nutrients and their metabolites are important as energy sources as well as ligands for many transcription factors expressed in adipose tissue, including all energy-providing nutrients both directly and indirectly as well as cholesterol, vitamin E and vitamin D. In particular, fatty acids can be effectively taken up by adipocytes and they can interact with several transcription factors crucial for growth, development and metabolic response, e.g. PPARα, −δ and −γ, sterol regulatory element-binding proteins1 and 2 and liver X receptors α and β). Moreover, glucose is also readily taken up and stored as fatty acids via lipogenesis in adipocytes. It is known that some metabolic signals released as proteins from adipose tissue (adipokines) are important for normal as well as pathological responses to the amount of energy stored in the adipose organ. The future challenge will be to understand the function of adipose tissue in energy homeostasis and the interplay with nutrients in order to be able to give optimal advice for the prevention and treatment of obesity.