To be more specific, he needs to convince several thousand of them, aged around 24, to be weighed, prodded and quizzed, donate blood and urine as well as undergo scans of their livers, hearts, necks and entire bodies.

Their data has been used in more than 1,200 academic papers worldwide, including ones showing the benefits of eating fish during pregnancy, that peanut oil in baby lotions is linked to later peanut allergy, and that 15 minutes of exercise a day halves the risk of childhood obesity.

This may sound a lot, but the Bristol study is part of a bigger and more unusual enterprise, a remarkable series of birth cohort studies that have tracked successive generations born in Britain.

Researchers around the world are keen to use the data: "We have a clutch of proposals every week," says Nicholas Timpson, a genetic epidemiologist who leads many of the omic studies for ALSPAC.

Around 1,000 cohort members have already attended the latest clinic, Focus @ 24 , which will collect measurements when these young adults are at their physical prime.

Another project will also start this year involving wiring up the bodies and homes of 30 study members with sensors to measure how active they are, and in-house sensors and cameras to monitor eating, sleeping and TV watching.

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