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13th May 2024

University of Verona Launches Obelisk TAPE-Obesity Trial

Obelisk partner the University of Verona, Italy, held an event on 8th May 2024 to mark the start of the Targeted Prevention of Early Obesity ‘TAPE-Obesity Trial’, the first of three studies to be conducted as part of the Obelisk project. The trials are led by the University of Verona and include participants from other sites.

The Obelisk project aims, in the medium term, to reduce the number of children living with obesity in Europe by 35%, but also to intensify and improve care for children and young people living with obesity.

The TAPE study is a randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of a targeted childhood obesity prevention programme aimed at the parents of newborns. The trial will recruit and follow 3,000 families with newborns at risk of obesity. The risk factors used to identify the at-risk newborns include birth weight, weight of the parents and the socio-economic and educational strata of the parents. A non-invasive saliva swab will also be taken for genetic investigation using artificial intelligence. The trial will also take place at sites in Messina (Italy) and Lille (France).

The parents will be engaged using various tools (interviews, eating style questionnaire, self-monitoring app, blog, live chat, information website) and intensive specialist follow-up with bi-quarterly monitoring meetings providing advice.

The second study, also taking place in Verona and Messina, and will recruit 300 adolescents living with obesity from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The intervention, which will run in schools, includes a hip-hop programme to address the stigma associated with obesity and provide healthy food packages for selected families. The third trial, which will take place in France, involves a study using semaglutide medication to treat a severe form of hereditary obesity.

Speaking at the launch event, the TAPE-Obesity trial director Professor Anita Morandi, University of Verona said: “This study is particularly important for our country, which has the highest obesity rate in Europe, with one in ten children living with obesity and 35 percent of children living with overweight. Obesity has potentially dangerous consequences, especially if it starts early in life. It can lead to significant cardiovascular risks and therefore a higher chance of having serious or even fatal events such as heart attacks or strokes as early as 40 years old. It also increases the risk of malignant tumours affecting various organs. Obesity is a disease increasing in prevalence and current projections tell us that 60 percent of children could be affected by 2030."

Professor Philippe Froguel, Co-coordinator of the Obelisk project, also spoke at the event and added: “I'm happy to be in Verona because the research here will be very important in reducing obesity. Due to COVID-19, we have seen that being unable to take part in sports has increased obesity rates. As a result, we will therefore have a generation living with overweight, and we don’t know if this trend will reverse. I also find the concept of using hip-hop for teenagers potentially very effective because one of the big issues associated with obesity is the psychosocial impact, even if the condition is mainly genetic in cause

It is well known that physical activity helps to avoid weight gain, as American studies have confirmed that based on one's body mass index, it is necessary to walk up to ten to twelve thousand steps a day. However, the psychological well-being of these adolescents is also important because managing a sedentary lifestyle is as difficult as managing the stimulus of hunger. But the real challenge that Professor Morandi has started to address here in Verona is prediction and early prevention in newborns, and reducing paediatric obesity means reducing the risk of serious diseases and mortality in later life."

Other speakers at the launch event included Professor Giovanni de Manzoni, Director of the Department of Surgical, Dental and Maternal-Child Sciences of the University of Verona, Claudio Maffeis, Director of the U.O.C. of Paediatrics B and Dr Amélie Bonnefond, Co-coordinator of the Obelisk project.

Notes to editors: 

Press contact: 

Jayne Evans, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Phone +44 7964 949734 

Coordinator contact: Philippe Froguel, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +33 (0)3 74 00 81 00 Amélie Bonnefond, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +33 (0)3 74 00 81 00 



  • Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), France (Project Coordinator) 
  • Oulu Yliopisto, Finland 
  • Assistance PubliqueHôpitaux de Paris, France 
  • Università degli Studi di Messina, Italy
  • Technische Universität München, Germany 
  • Lunds Universitet, Sweden 
  • Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam Rehbrücke, Germany 
  • European Childhood Obesity Group, Belgium 
  • Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy 
  • Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy 
  • Fundació Institut Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques, Spain 
  • Inserm Transfert SA, France 
  • Centre Hospitalier Régional et Universitaire de Lille, France 
  • Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Switzerland
  • Beta Technology, UK 

Obelisk has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement 101080465. UK participant in Horizon Europe Project Obelisk is supported by UKRI grant number 10077650 (Beta Technology). This work is further supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education.

Disclaimer: Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or other granting authorities. Neither the European Union nor the granting authorities can be held responsible for them.

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