Obesity and diabetes are twin epidemics with global impact on public health.

One out of three Americans is obese, and two thirds are overweight. Type-2 diabetes—thought to result from over-nutrition and lack of exercise—is rising at an alarming rate. Recently, scientists have linked diabetes and other metabolic disorders to an increased risk for immune disorders, renal failure, heart disease and cancer.

Once thought to be a problem mainly of the developed world, the rates of metabolic disease are rising worldwide, and the extent of obesity in Africa is now greater than that of undernutrition.

The modern Western diet is the leading contributor to these severe metabolic conditions. Characterized by an over-consumption of energy-dense foods, the way we eat leads to an increase in adipose tissue, resulting in insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Once these conditions arise, they are difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

The ONPRC has developed a high-fat diet-induced obesity model in rhesus macaques that allows us to understand the full spectrum of obesity-related complications. With this innovative model, scientists can study the progression of obesity, isolate the early signs of its related conditions, and determine how to best treat and prevent this serious disease and its consequences.