Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
The aim of the study is to look at genetic, behavioural and environmental factors relating to obesity and diabetes in a group of 10,000 people born between 1950 and 1975.
Who can participate?
Men and women born between 1950 and 1975 registered at participating GP practices in the Fenland and East Cambridgeshire area
What does the study involve?
Interested applicants are invited to attend for a single visit at one of the MRC Epidemiology Unit testing centres. The visit lasts about three hours and includes measures of metabolic health, diet and other lifestyle patterns, body composition, fitness and physical activity. Follow-up visits take place at least 4 years later, in chronological order, so those that took part first of all were invited first.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The possible benefits of participating are receiving a very thorough health check including a test for diabetes and measurement of blood cholesterol. With the participants' permission their results will be passed to their GP and they will receive detailed individual feedback on the results from the tests. There is no risk involved in the tests.
Where is the study run from?
Addenbrooke's Hospital (UK)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
December 2004 to December 2014
Who is funding the study?
Medical Research Council (MRC) (UK)
Who is the main contact?
The Fenland Study - a population-based cohort study of the interaction between environment and genetic factors in determining obesity, insulin sensitivity and hyperglycemia
The Fenland study
The study is designed to investigate how common genetic variations interact with our dietary and physical activity patterns to determine the overall level of body fat and its distribution around the body and key indicators of metabolic health.
Phase 1: Cambridge Regional Ethics Committee, 11/05/2004, ref: 04/Q0108/19
Phase 2: NRES East of England – Cambridge East Research Ethics Committee, 05/07/2014, ref: 14/EE/0122
Single-centred observational cross-sectional cohort study
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details to request a patient information sheet
Diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders
1. Oral glucose tolerance test
2. Measures of height, weight, waist and hip circumference and blood pressure
3. An ECG is carried out in order to provide information for exclusion from the treadmill test
4. Body fat is assessed by dual X-ray absorptiometry and ultrasonography
5. Habitual diet is assessed by questionnaire and biomarker analysis
6. Physical activity is assessed directly by using a combined sensor able to record heart rate and vertical acceleration. Individual calibration of heart rate and energy expenditure is carried out using a submaximal exercise test on a treadmill. Volunteers wear the sensor for 6 days following the visit to assess their habitual physical activity level
Follow-up visits took place at least 4 years after Phase 1, in chronological order, so those that took part first of all were invited first.
Primary outcome measure
The study is designed to investigate how common genetic variations interact with our dietary and physical activity patterns to determine the overall level of body fat and its distribution around the body and key indicators of metabolic health. All outcomes are measured at the one-off visit. There are no follow-up visits involved in this study.
Secondary outcome measures
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
Men and women born between 1950-1975 registered at participating GP practices
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Diagnosed diabetes
2. Psychotic illness
3. Terminal illness
5. Unable to walk unaided
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
MRC Epidemiology Unit
University of Cambridge (UK)
c/o Carolyn Read
Research Governance Officer
School of Clinical Medicine
Wellcome Trust (Ref: 074548)
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Medical Research Council
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Planned publication in a high-impact peer-reviewed journal.
IPD sharing statement
The data sharing plans for the current study are unknown and will be made available at a later date.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
To be made available at a later date
Basic results (scientific)
2015 results in: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26343512