The stress-diet-obesity relation: longitudinal studies with focus on biomarkers and gut microbiota Seminar

On Wednesday 14th November we are pleased to welcome Dr Nathalie Michels from the University of Ghent, Belgium for our external seminar series.

This talk will give an overview of Nathalie's previous and ongoing research in the stress-diet-obesity relation. After summarising current views on underlying lifestyle and physiological paths from stress to obesity, Nathalie shows that even in children stress is related to emotional eating with preference for sweets and indicate the role of cortisol and leptin. As not everyone reacts to stress in the same way, stress reports were only related with overweight tendencies over 2 years when it was combined with high sweet food consumption and high cortisol levels, while decreased body fat resulted in cases with high physical activity. Then she explains their current large interdisciplinary project on emotion regulation in the prevention and treatment of obesity in adolescents. Apart from an observational cohort follow-up, adolescents undergo in the lab tests a stressor to measure their physiological and psychological stress reactivity via neuro-endocrine responses and a snack ad-libitum exposure. Finally, we set-up an emotion regulation training in obese adolescents to minimize emotional eating. Nathalie has been focusing on the microbiota-gut-brain axis i.e. the role of gut bacteria in stress. Nathalie will give an overview of current pathway hypotheses how gut bacteria can determine our menu. The next three years, Nathalie wants to further elucidate the underlying biological pathways of stress-induced eating via  –omics strategies examining gut&oral bacteria, epigenetics and metabolites in serum/feces/saliva on our own cohort and three international cohorts. Finally, Nathalie briefly mentions some other stress related work on reward sensitivity, examination stress, tryptophan and the stress-lifestyle-disease pathways in a general population.

Short Biography 
Nathalie Michels is a postdoctoral researcher at the department of Public Health at Ghent University. With her background in biomedical medicine (option nutrition), she is interested in the link between psychosocial and physiological factors. Within the unit Nutrition, she defended her PhD end 2013 on the longitudinal stress-obesity relation in children and underlying nutritional and physiological pathways. During her postdoc fellowship, she continues exploring this stress-obesity relation by studying the role of emotion regulation, chronic inflammation, tryptophan and gut microbiota. Apart from this, she is involved in other national and European projects on nutrition, obesity, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, biomarkers, well-being, physical fitness and sleep. She has 28 first-author A1 publications and 60 co-authorships amongst others by copromotor role in 6 PhD projects.


Psychology Building, Room 1.33 / 1.34