Research project
36 | monthsOBI-WAN-DIET

A multi-omics approach to tackle obesity at individual level with plant-based diets

Related toSpoke 04

Principal investigators
Pedro Mena,Daniele Del Rio

Other partecipants Marco Ventura, Alessandra Dei Cas, Claudia Favari, Nicola Bragazzi, Elisabetta Viale, Laila Zeraik, Cristiano Negro, Joana Rebelo, Maria Sole Morandini
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Project partners

Task involved

Task 4.3.1.

Development and validation of sustainable models of personalised/precision nutrition based on anthropometric, demographic, nutritional status, lifestyle habits, perceptive characteristics, psychosocial, metabolic response, genetic and metagenetic characteristics, also developing predictive tools for the identification of specific phenotypes and appropriate intervention strategies. Tasks include the definition and validation of improved dietary patterns to cover individual nutritional needs through sustainable and affordable foods/preparations (in connection with Spoke 1, 5 and 7) and the development of tools for the prediction at individual level of the metabolic, psychosocial, and physiological response to food intake (in connection with Spoke 6).

Project deliverables


Development and validation of at least one new predictive approach for individual response to food intake (M36)

State of the art

Obesity represents a serious healthcare issue at global level, leading to major societal and personal costs. Despite the huge number of programs focused on obesity prevention, this pandemic seems far to be eradicated. A better knowledge on the multiple causes behind the onset of overweight/obese statuses as well as on the metabolic and physiological roles of preventive dietary approaches are key to face obesity and its related comorbidities. In this sense, genotyping and metabolic phenotyping may provide sound information to develop tailored strategies, while alterations in the oral microbiome have been recently linked to obesity risk. Here, we aim to understand the role of sustainable, personalized, plant-based dietary interventions on the prevention of obesity, using a holistic multi-omics approach and developing predictive models embracing the singularities of each individual. 

Operation plan

A nested intervention study will be conducted in 500 adults at cardiometabolic risk (with overweight/obesity, central obesity, hypertension, high total cholesterol, etc.). Of the 500 subjects to be enrolled, 330 will be prospectively recruited according to the way they metabolize phenolic compounds, using a metabotyping approach consisting of an Oral (Poly)phenol Challenge Test (OPCT).
Questionnaires regarding lifestyle, diet, physical activity and sleep habits will be administered, and anthropometric parameters and body composition will be assessed. Saliva samples will be collected for the profiling of the oral microbiome, and genetic polymorphisms (SNPs) of each individual will be analysed in blood samples.
A comprehensive panel of biomarkers related to food intake regulation (ghrelin, GLP-1, CCK, etc.) and adipose tissue function (adiponectin, leptin, and resistin) will be analysed. Data on dietary intake, biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk, metabolome and gut microbiome will also be available. All the data will be used to create predictive models addressing the effectiveness of the personalized dietary interventions and understand the contribution of each variable to obesity prevention.

Expected results

Obesity is a multifactorial disease where the relationships among different metabolic and physiological processes are still poorly understood at individual level. OBI-WAN-DIET will shed light on the following major knowledge gaps: 
1) the role of sustainable, personalized, plant-based dietary interventions on the prevention of obesity;
2) the contribution of the interplay oral microbiome – genetic polymorphisms – hormonal regulation to obesity prevention;
3) the development of translatable predictive models to manage weight control in overweight/obese adults.

This study will help to build a new paradigm in the management of chronic diseases, focused on individuals and using multi-omics approaches, predictive tools, and plant-based diets with demonstrated health effects.