The goal of the Global Diet and Activity Research Network (GDAR) is to help prevent non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancers, in low and middle income countries. It is funded through the NIHR Global Health Research initiative.
We are a network of researchers from seven universities in six countries on three continents. The GDAR Group is based in Cambridge UK, and the Network is made up of researchers from Cameroon, the Caribbean, Kenya, South Africa and the UK.
GDAR is working to deliver high quality, novel and policy-relevant research within a relatively short time period. Our aim is that work will also lay the foundations for a well-functioning Network that is capable of attracting funding to be sustained beyond 2020.
By 2050, it is projected that almost 70% of the world’s population will be living in cities, up from 55% today. The fastest urban growth is happening in Asia and Africa, which is also where we’re seeing a rapid rise in people suffering from, and dying of, heart disease.
The impact of non-communicable diseases on the world population’s health is growing. Non-communicable diseases are those that are not directly transmissible from one person to another. By 2030, scientists predict they will account for 77% of the global burden of disease. Cardiovascular or heart disease is the most common type, responsible for 44% of all deaths related to this category.
New research from the University Medical Centre in Mainz, Germany, explores how urbanisation exacerbates the risks of such diseases. Young people are increasingly concentrated in the world’s cities. Their future health is at risk. Can city planning can be harnessed to protect their health?
In 2017, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa voluntarily announced that it would stop supplying sugary beverages to primary school outlets. The company also pledged to remove all branding and advertising from schools. The announcement took the form of a letter noting that that Coca-Cola Beverages wanted to play “an active role in addressing rising obesity rates in South Africa, especially among children”.
Childhood obesity is a serious and growing problem is South Africa. More than 13% of children are either obese or overweight. The consumption of liquid sugar is particularly harmful because it is absorbed so quickly into the bloodstream. Not surprisingly, sugary drinks and their marketing has been linked to obesity especially among children. Just a single sugary beverage per day increases that child’s chance of overweight by 55%. Similarly, once they become an overweight teen, there is a 70% chance they will not be able to lose the weight.
GDAR’s short film about citizen science in Yaoundé was showcased in an NCD Alliance Webinar on 11 November. GDAR co-lead Tolullah Oni took part in the event that provided a first-hand glimpse at the faces of community mobilisation to act on NCDs in the #COVID19 era.
In commemoration of World Diabetes Day, this webinar convened global experts to discuss the role of civil society engagement, lessons learned from #COVID19, #diabetes prevention and control, and launched the ‘Turning The Tide on NCDs’ series in Africa. It was Co-organized with Ecobank Group.
Professor Vicki Lambert from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) and GDAR has been part of spearheading the African Academic Consortium on Physical Activity for Health, which has released two policy briefs for government about physical activity.
GDAR teams up with NCD Alliance and BBC StoryWorks as part of short film series
They’re the world’s biggest killers. Non-communicable diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and diabetes account for 70 percent of all deaths. But many of these diseases can be prevented and the suffering from their effects, reduced. Turning the Tide is a series of short films about the bold actions being carried out by communities and organisations to take on NCDs. The stories are about the small and significant changes being made for better, healthier lives.
The GDAR film shines the spotlight on a citizen science study we’re conducting in partnership with young people and communities in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The study seeks to understand more about how neighbourhoods and daily routines affect health.
Held 2-4 December 2019, STIAS Wallenberg Research Centre, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Africa is experiencing a double burden of disease. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease are overshadowing the gains recorded in communicable disease prevention.
But cities in Africa also represent an opportunity to take the lead on re-thinking strategies to turn the tide of this emerging NCD epidemic.
Non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancers are a global challenge. In fact they are more common in many low and middle income countries than in high income countries. In the lower income nations, most people with these diseases are of working age, which can leave families destitute and harm development.
The MRC Epidemiology Unit is playing its part in addressing this challenge through its coordination of the Global Diet and Activity Research Group and Network (GDAR). This is a partnership between the Unit and researchers in Kenya, Cameroon, South Africa and the Caribbean, funded through the NIHR Global Health Research initiative.
The Global Burden of Disease study, which tracked trends in consumption of 15 dietary factors from 1990 to 2017 in 195 countries, and is now published in The Lancet, finds that people in almost every region of the world could benefit from rebalancing their diets to eat optimal amounts of various foods and nutrients.
The study estimates that one in five deaths globally – equivalent to 11 million deaths – are associated with poor diet, and diet contributes to a range of chronic diseases in people around the world. In 2017, more deaths were caused by diets with too low amounts of foods such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds than by diets with high levels of foods like trans fats, sugary drinks, and high levels of red and processed meats.
Press Release issued when the GDAR funding was announced in July 2017.
The MRC Epidemiology Unit has been awarded funding by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a new international research partnership to help combat poor diet and physical inactivity in order to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.
The Global Diet and Activity Research Group and Network (GDAR) will carry out research to help prevent non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, which are a major and growing cause of death and disability in low and middle income countries. Two of the most important causes behind the increases in these diseases are unhealthy diets and a lack of physical activity, both of which are associated with the rapid economic development that is taking place in these countries.