Nutrition is only one means of promoting human health, but it is one of the most critical. Nutrition can cause disorders and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular diseases.
Nearly one-third of the total costs of the healthcare system owe to diseases that are directly or indirectly related to aspects of nutrition. This is true, for example, in the case of obesity - which is becoming an ever increasing problem in Germany. According to a study by the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) in 2007, both males and females in Germany are at the top of the European list of the overweight. This places them on equal footing with the USA in global comparison. The study claims that 75.4% of German men and 58.9% of German women are overweight.
Obesity is now also affecting more and more young people. This has prompted the call for more preventative strategies to prevent food-related diseases. Modern nutrition research in recent years has therefore increasingly concentrated on gaining a better understanding of the molecular structures of food and how they interact with the human organism. Research results are meant to help researchers and businesses in the food industry cooperate in the development of new foods. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has provided targeted support for these efforts for many years through a series of initiatives.
The funding initiative was launched jointly by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection and the Länder in order to pool competences in the agricultural and food sciences in Germany. The initiative targets consortia whose members are from both university and non-university research institutions and represent various disciplines in agricultural and nutrition research as well as companies in the field of breeding and the food industry. In light of the great challenges in the fields of plant breeding and food supply as well as global developments (climate change, rising global population, water shortages), it is of utmost importance to bundle competences. A total of 27 networks applied for funding, five of which were ultimately awarded support. The winners include a network whose focus is on nutrition research: Food Chain Plus - FoCus.
This funding initiative is a competition of the best ideas for nutrition research of the future. Its purpose is to produce solutions to the current challenges facing the areas of health and food. Funding is provided for interdisciplinary approaches that involve the participation of all relevant disciplines such as food science, biology, medicine, food technology as well as the humanities and social sciences. In the long term, the research which results from this competition will serve to advance preventative strategies in the development of healthful foods - products that can protect against Alzheimer's disease or which contain healthy fats, for example.
In addition to providing funding to outstanding individual or collaborative projects, the initiative focuses on giving targeted support to junior research groups.
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