Obesity and diabetes research

Weight gain and obesity have a major impact on health and quality of life. However, the origins of obesity are complex and effective prevention strategies and treatment interventions are lacking.

Our research group addresses the origins of weight gain and obesity, impact on health, and investigates approaches to interventions.

Researchers in childhood origins of obesity and biomarker discovery

Postgraduate students

  • Dr Olubukala Ajala – Prediction of cardiometabolic risk in children
  • Rabab Alkutbe

  • Kathy Redfern - ‘The influence of diet, physical activity and the timing and composition of gestational weight gain on maternal and infant outcomes in women with a BMI>30'.

Childhood origins of obesity and biomarker discovery

The investigation of the childhood origins of obesity and the health impact of obesity have been longstanding research interests at the University of Plymouth.

The Earlybird research programme, originally set up by Professor Terence Wilkin in 1999, is a cohort study that has been investigating long-term health trajectories in a cohort of Plymouth schoolchildren.

The participants in this long running study have now been followed up to the age of 19 years, giving new insights into the role of weight gain and obesity in the mechanisms responsible for chronic disease in adults.

The investigation of new biomarkers of weight gain and predictors of health is a particular area of interest.

Researchers in person-centred care in a community weight management programme

Person-centred care in a community weight management programme

While obesity and its consequences are a major strategic challenge to the NHS, the optimum methods for successful weight loss interventions remain poorly defined.

The research employs mixed methods approaches to investigate the mechanisms of behavioural weight loss interventions. This research programme is supported by PenCARC.

Find out more information about this project.


  • Dr Mark Tarrant, University of Exeter

Researchers in health and nutrition: prediabetic states

Health and nutrition: prediabetic states

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition associated with a predisposition to diabetes. The mechanisms responsible for this predisposition, and whether interventions could reduce risk, are controversial.

This research programme investigates the effects of obesity on risk of diabetes, and underlying mechanisms of insulin resistance and pancreatic beta cell impairment.


  • Dr Royce Vincent, King's College Hospital