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Researchers study how dietary carbohydrates influence the thickening of arteries

Visit University of Surrey website

7 July 2009

New funding from BBSRC is allowing a research team from the University of Surrey to ask the question: How does dietary carbohydrate influence the development of atherosclerosis? Atherosclerosis is the condition in which an artery wall thickens as the result of a build-up of fatty materials such as cholesterol. The study team led by Professors Bruce Griffin and Margot Umpleby will investigate how the body metabolises different types of carbohydrate. The study hopes to open an exciting new area of research that will help scientists to understand how different types of carbohydrate affect fat metabolism. This will help formulate appropriate dietary advice for men at risk of metabolic syndrome.

The aim of the dietary study will be to compare two diets with the same weight and energy from carbohydrates but either high or low amounts of sugars in men with low and moderate amounts of fat in their liver. Half the men in the study will have the high sugar diet first followed by the low sugar diet second and the other half will have the low sugar diet first and the high sugar diet second. The nutritionist will give guidance and advice on how to follow the diets and they will be prepared and eaten in the participants own homes.

The liver fat will be measured by a whole body scan (MRI) at the beginning of the study and at the end of each diet.  The effect the diets have on how much fat the liver is making and how much fat the body is burning will be tested by spending a day with the team at the Cedar Centre for Endocrinology Diabetes and Research at the Royal Surrey County Hospital. 

Professor Griffin comments: "This is a landmark study that will help us to establish the mechanisms by which dietary sugars increase risk of cardiovascular disease through their adverse effects on the metabolism of fat in the liver and blood circulation."

The research team is currently recruiting overweight men, aged 45-65 years from the local area, who are at increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome but are without diabetes.  If you are interested in taking part in this study please contact Cheryl Isherwood at the University of Surrey, tel: 01483 688642 or e-mail:


About the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit to all spheres of life – helping industry to maintain its competitive edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy. Programmes in science and technology have gained widespread recognition and it also boasts flourishing programmes in dance and music, social sciences, management and languages and law. In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park, which provides facilities for 140 companies employing 2,700 staff.

The Sunday Times names Surrey as ‘The University for Jobs' which underlines the university’s growing reputation for providing high quality, relevant degrees.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £450M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. BBSRC carries out its mission by funding internationally competitive research, providing training in the biosciences, fostering opportunities for knowledge transfer and innovation and promoting interaction with the public and other stakeholders on issues of scientific interest in universities, centres and institutes.

The Babraham Institute, Institute for Animal Health, Institute of Food Research, John Innes Centre and Rothamsted Research are Institutes of BBSRC. The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.

External contact

Peter La, Press Office at the University of Surrey
tel: 01483 689191


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382