Could a simple change in the diet of expectant mothers prevent their children from developing diabetes?
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1 What are the two arguments Professor Fall gives against making middle-aged people lose weight to prevent diabetes?
2 Where does Professor Fall's plan to prevent diabetes rely on?
3 What chemical element is important to bone growth?
4 How many snacks are made in the kitchen every day?
5 How many women have participated in the project?
6 Why is it important that the women come to the centre and have the supplement there?
7 As well as having their mental development tested, what other elements of a baby's growth are measured and recorded?
8 Despite the improvement in mothers' diet, which potential problem are the scientists coming across?
Inspired by David's ideas, his colleague, Professor Caroline Fall, is leading a study with the potential to fix the diabetes epidemic in India.
At the moment, if you talk about preventing diabetes, people are talking about making middle-aged people lose weight, and A, that's impossible to do, and B, it doesn't seem to work very well anyway. And so the idea that you could build a human being that was more resistant to this disease was amazing to me.
Caroline's plan to halt the diabetes epidemic doesn't rely on high-tech labs or fancy science. It rests mainly on these women and one kitchen. These recipes contain all the crucial building blocks needed to build a body resistant to disease.
Folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamin A. The calcium will be important for bone growth. The green leafy vegetables contain small quantities of essential fatty acids which are important for brain growth. All of those nutrients are important in different tissues of the body. The foetus, at a very, very early microscopic stage, is sensitive to the nutrients around it and if we miss that, we feel that we would be missing the most important stage of development.
Every day, over 1,500 snacks are made in this kitchen. There are nutrient-rich recipes and others that are green vegetable-free to act as scientific controls. They are taken to about 50 clinics in the slums across the city. In total, over 6,700 women have participated and each must begin eating the supplements well before they fall pregnant. It's a logistical nightmare where the utmost care must be taken to be scientific.
I'm very glad to have met Meera. It's been hard work, it's been hard work setting up a study like this. To carry it out on the ground in a population like this is very difficult.
It's mandatory for a woman to come to the centre and have the supplement in front of the project clerk because it is very important, you know, because if they take it home, somebody else can eat it. They can throw it out or the child can eat it. We are not sure who the supplement has gone into, whose stomach, so it's very important to have women coming to the centre.
The centre is full of women eating supplements from well before pregnancy until they give birth. And there are also babies who must be measured at one, three, six and 12 months. Their weight, length and body fat are recorded, and they are even testing their mental development. It is an ambitious long-term project.
For seven-and-a-half years.
How many more?
Forever, I think.
The results of this study will begin to come in next year.
We're providing better nutrition into the mother, but the mother herself has had a poor early development, which may affect the quality of her eggs. It certainly affects the size of her uterus and the quality of the blood supply to the uterus. So she is still constraining the development and growth of that foetus.
1 a) that's impossible to do; b) it doesn 't seem to work very well
2 the kitchen or cooking or diet or recipes
6 to make sure that they actually have it
7 weight, length and body fat
8 mothers themselves had a poor early development, which may affect the quality of their eggs