King's College London

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Professor Thomas Sanders

Research interests

The main focus of our research is on the mechanisms by which diet influences risk of cardiovascular disease. Much of our research has been involved with differentiating the effects of different types of fatty acids(trans fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, oleic acid, and different chain length saturated fatty acids) as well as the relative proportions of fat and type of carbohydrate on cardiovascular risk factors. More recently, we have been examining the effects of saturated fatty acids of varying chain length and the influence of triglyceride structure on cardiovascular risk, including insulin secretion and sensitivity. Much of this work is relevant to replacing industrial produced trans fats. Our research suggests that stearic acid is neutral with regard to cardiovascular risk and this can be used to produce high melting point fats in products that previously contained trans fats. In addition to the work on dietary lipids and carbohydrates we have an interest in the biologically active components in plant foods such as isoflavones and flavonoids.

Wherever possible, we try to take a holistic view with regard to dietary intake and are interested in the effects of overall dietary patterns. We have a long-standing interest in comparing the health of vegans with vegetarians, who consume milk and eggs, and omnivores, who eat meat/or fish in addition to milk and eggs. We also have an interest in the acute effects resulting from the consumption of certain foods as well as the longer term effects.

Our group has specific expertise in the measurement of polyunsaturated fatty acids and other lipids including eicosanoids. Perhaps what differentiates the work of our group from other groups working on dietary lipids is that we have tended to focus on the interaction between the effects of dietary lipids and changes in haemostasis. Our work was among the first to show that meals high in fat induce activation of clotting factor VII and impair endothelial function. Our most recent work in this area indicates that meals high in oleic acid may have adverse effects on procoagulant activity and endothelial function compared with meals containing stearic acid.

We endeavour to foster cross-disciplinary research and seek to work with people with expertise that complements our own. We have much experience in the design and execution of controlled dietary intervention trials. I have a long term interest in assessing the risks/benefits associated with food and this is reflected in the work I have done on British Nutrition Foundation Task Forces (most recently on Nutrition and Development), EU Projects such as the BRAFO project which developmed methodology for assessing risks and benefits of foods and as well as participation in expert consultations with the United Nations WHO/FAO.

Types of External academic engagement - Contribution to the work of national or international committees and working groups

WHO/FAO Joint Expert Consultation on Fats and Fatty Acids

Thomas Sanders (Member)
2008 → …

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Contribution to the work of national or international committees and working groups

Joint Health Claims Initiative Scientific Advisory Board

Thomas Sanders (Advisor)
2008 → …

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Contribution to the work of national or international committees and working groups

Types of External academic engagement - Membership of external research organisation

Scientific Governor, British Nutrition Foundation

Thomas Sanders (Member)
2001 → …

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of external research organisation

Association of Professors of Human Nutriton

Thomas Sanders (Chair)
2001 → …

Activity: OtherTypes of External academic engagement - Membership of external research organisation

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