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Leading researchers from Denmark and the University of Oxford's Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, will develop and test new obesity management programmes. The goal is to improve health and quality of life through solutions that can contribute to lasting changes, including long-term weight loss. The Novo Nordisk Foundation is backing the project with a grant of £21 million.

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The prevalence of obesity has increased worldwide in the past 50 years. Due to the physical and mental health complications associated with obesity, many countries are looking to implement effective strategies to prevent and manage obesity. Current treatment options are limited and more knowledge and evidence is needed to enable people to receive help that is appropriate to their needs.

A collaboration of leading researchers from Denmark and the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford want to make a step-change in the way that obesity is managed. In the Lighthouse Consortium on Obesity Management (LightCOM) research project, they will develop, implement, and evaluate new obesity management programmes that will be offered in both primary and secondary care. The programmes, which will be tested in both Denmark and the United Kingdom, aim to improve health and quality of life through solutions that can contribute to long-term health benefits.

Professor Susan Jebb, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford, who will be leading the research project in the UK says: 

'The National Health Service (NHS) in England has already invested in developing new weight management services in primary care but hospital care lags behind. The LightCOM studies will test whether we can implement systems to offer more effective weight management programmes for people with severe and complex obesity, combining dietary and behavioural interventions with pharmacotherapy, and also test whether these treatments are a cost-effective alternative to existing NHS programmes in primary care.'

Carsten Dirksen, Chief Physician, Department of Endocrinology, Amager and Hvidovre Hospital, who will also be leading the research project, says:

'The LightCOM project gives us a unique opportunity which, with financial support from the Novo Nordisk Foundation, can help ensure a strong scientific foundation for obesity management in the future. A cornerstone of the project is the involvement of municipalities and local health boards, general practitioners and hospitals, which means that the management programmes can be tested across the healthcare system in both Denmark and the United Kingdom.'

The other partners in the project in Denmark are the University of Copenhagen, the University of Southern Denmark and several municipalities within the Capital Region of Denmark. 

Investigating intensive weight-loss interventions

The LightCOM project will test an intensive weight-loss programme intended to help people lose large amounts of weight and to have clinically important benefits to their physical and mental health. This programme will be tested in randomised controlled clinical trials recruiting participants in both Denmark and the United Kingdom. 

The programme will make use of dietary strategies as well as innovative digital and health technology solutions to support lasting change. Health economic analysis will examine the cost-effectiveness of the programme in the different settings. In addition, the researchers will study how to optimise the implementation of the programme if it proves to be effective. This will enable the solutions to be rapidly rolled out within the healthcare systems in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Arne Astrup, Professor, DMSc, Senior Vice President, Obesity and Nutrition Science at the Novo Nordisk Foundation, says:

'Our expectation is that the LightCOM project will contribute solid, research-based evidence that is scalable and can be applied quickly if the results prove successful. The project is also a fantastic opportunity to increase collaboration and knowledge sharing between Denmark and the United Kingdom in an area that is experiencing increasing health-related and political attention in both countries.'

Additional information on the LightCOM project

The LightCOM project originates from Lighthouse Life Science – Healthy Weight, an initiative in which many public and private actors in the Capital Region of Denmark have joined forces to develop new healthcare solutions in life science and welfare technology that can prevent, detect and manage obesity.

The aim of Lighthouse Life Science is to create better and greater health equality, focusing on developing solutions that are cost-effective, scalable and implementable. The LightCOM interventions have been developed with the same focus in mind and will also involve innovative health technology solutions from small biotech companies.

The intensive weight-loss programme offers an individualised combination of meal replacement, physical activity, behavioural support and possibly pharmacological treatment. This combination is intended to achieve sustained weight loss of at least 20% and improved physical and mental health. This programme will be tested in three randomised controlled trials in both Denmark and the United Kingdom, compared with the existing programmes in both primary and secondary care settings.




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