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New nutritional research centre to promote healthier lifestyles in Asia

Asia's first Clinical Nutritional Research Centre (CNRC) is set to promote healthier lifestyles across Asia through state-of-the art research and the food people consume.

SINGAPORE: Asia's first Clinical Nutritional Research Centre (CNRC) is set to promote healthier lifestyles across Asia through state-of-the art research and the food people consume.

CNRC, which was officially opened on January 28, also aims to better understand the causes of metabolic diseases common in the region, such as diabetes, cognitive decline in the elderly and obesity.

CNRC is a S$20 million joint venture by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and National University Health System (NUHS).

The centre said that natural ingredients, when added to food, has additional health benefits -- for example, rice that can help lower glucose levels in the blood while tasting exactly the same, which makes it a healthier choice for diabetics.

It hopes that the public will be able to get hold of such rice on supermarket shelves by next year.

Professor Jeyakumar Henry, director of Clinical Nutritional Sciences, said: "We can provide ideas and concepts that are based on food science to develop a new range of foods that have lower cholesterol, lower glycemic or glucose control, (and) enhance cognition.

"So this is an important stimulus to produce a whole range of foods that are specially tailored to the Asian population and the Asian palate."

Companies present at the launch of the CNRC said the centre's research will carry through to their products and strengthen innovation.

Dr Eline Van der Beek, research director at Danone Nutricia Early Life Nutrition, said: "We will see a change in products.

"We already see that our innovation pipeline is very much R&D driven, and thus having access to a facility with state-of-the-art analytical methods to actually measure what happens to your food -- it will help to boost your innovation pipeline.”

Apart from food research, CNRC also boasts state-of-the art facilities such as the "BodPod", which measures the amount of fats stored in the body, aimed at combating conditions such as obesity.

How much energy one’s body uses is also monitored through Asia's first whole-body dual calorimeter room.

The room evaluates the ability of the body to burn different types of food through the amount of carbon dioxide produced and oxygen consumed by a volunteer.

The centre hopes that it will be able to play a role in developing Singapore as a major hub for food and nutritional research.

Professor Jeyakumar said: "In the worldwide arena, there are very few places that work on Asian population and that is the importance of a Singapore centre."  

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