A top education award has been awarded to a University team helping to tackle Malaysia’s obesity crisis.

The UK-Malaysia Education Institutional Partnership Award funded by the British Council was awarded to the Reading research group for their N²RTU project. This first-of-its-kind initiative focused on sharing knowledge in emerging areas of nutritional research, such as how genetics can influence obesity.

Nutritionists, clinicians, dieticians, students, and academics took part in workshops, outreach activities and webinars hosted by the University of Reading food science and nutrition experts as part of the project. The sessions were designed to help health professionals address problems such as obesity and malnutrition among the most vulnerable in Malaysia.

Professor Vimal Karani from the University of Reading, UK and Dr Anto Cordelia Tanislaus Antony Dhanapal from the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Malaysia led the research. Professor Karani, Professor in Nutrigenetics & Nutrigenomics, said: “We knew we faced a big challenge when we started this project as obesity affects a large number of vulnerable people in Malaysia, but especially mothers, children, teenagers and young adults.

“Our training programmes push health professionals in Malaysia to think about obesity in a different way. By considering how genetics can influence weight, more people will be able to receive personalised support in their mission to get fit.

“We have received really positive results so far and this award shows we are making progress in helping to tackle obesity in Malaysia.”

The Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health (IFNH) at the University of Reading, UK and the UTAR, Malaysia received the award ahead of Cambridge University and Edinburgh University in Kuala Lumpur on 8 June 2023.

Research collaboration

The team’s success marks the latest milestone in the University’s contribution to research in Malaysia.

In 2015, the University of Reading Malaysia opened in EduCity Iskandar. The modern, purpose-built campus provides flexible space to teach students in a range of subjects, including business, real estate, quantity surveying, law and psychology.

Graduates of UoRM receive the same University of Reading degree as their counterparts in the UK.