Clincial Obesity

Professor John Dixon
Head, Clinical Obesity Laboratory
NHMRC Senior Research Fellow
Phone +61 3 8532 1115


research overview 

The Clinical Obesity Laboratory is dedicated to high quality research to improve the clinical care of those with obesity. The difficulty in treating obesity is well recognised as an important area for research. There are many ways to achieve weight loss and this area is evolving in tandem with the global obesity epidemic. But all methods are not equal. There is no one "perfect" method and our group is interested in understanding the biological mechanisms behind different weight loss treatments in addition to evaluating efficacy and any associated health benefits or risks. Maintaining weight loss in the long term, which has proven to be a significant hurdle in many treatments, is also an area of interest and we link within Baker IDI to other specialist research departments and with outside organisations including researchers in tertiary institutions and industry partners to further knowledge in this important area. Our focus is on practical clinical applications to improve the health and quality of life of obese patients, and to the generation of community expertise in the multidisciplinary task of identifying, evaluating and managing obesity and its related diseases. Our research treatment modalities include lifestyle interventions, meal replacement, drugs, devices and bariatric surgery.

The Clinical Obesity Research team works closely with other multidisciplinary teams. These cover a wide range of specialties such as endocrinologists, bariatric physicians, bariatric surgeons, gastroenterologists, dieticians and nutritionists, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists. Key studies will look at obesity-related hypertension, type-2 diabetes, dyslipidaemia, psychosocial issues, physical activity, cardiac function and cardiovascular risk and we liaise with other Baker IDI experts in these areas.

We also link with the Baker IDI Weight Management Clinic.

Research Focus

  • Understanding the metabolism of the obese person
  • Exploring links between obesity and other medical conditions
  • Researching the treatment options for weight loss
  • Examining the effects of weight loss on medical conditions
  • Identifying predictors of weight loss
  • Minimizing the risks of weight loss
  • Understanding the psychosocial burden of obesity and its links to other conditions
  • Translation of research findings into clinical practice

Research Projects

  • Hypertension 
  • Men's health, obesity and weight loss
  • Exercise with weight loss
  • MILES collaboration, psychosocial effects of obesity in Type 2 diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea

Lab Head Profile

John came to obesity research in 1998 from a background as a rural primary care physician. His generalist approach has enabled clinical research across specialist boundaries. He is a respected international leader in many clinical aspects of obesity including nutritional, endocrine, liver, respiratory, obstetric, and psychological. In addition his research has focussed on the effects of weight loss on health outcomes. Studies have utilised many different weight loss methods from lifestyle interventions to medical diets, very low calorie diets, devices and bariatric surgery.

His research has included four world first clinical randomized controlled trials of bariatric surgery in mild obesity, diabetes, severely obese adolescents and obstructive sleep apnoea. He is a co-author of the consensus clinical practice guidelines for the perioperative nutritional, metabolic, and nonsurgical support of the bariatric surgery patient developed by American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Obesity Society, and American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

He is a member of the scientific advisory board of Obesity Australia, was President of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society (2007–09), is Associate Editor of Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases and Obesity Surgery, and editorial board member of Nutrition and Diabetes, Clinical Obesity and Diabesity in Practice.

Achievements / Awards

  • NHMRC Senior Research Fellowship level B, 2010
  • Fellowship of Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh, 2010
  • Best Paper, Adult Clinical Research, ANZOS ASM, 2012
  • International Federation of Surgery for Obesity for "research and services to obesity surgery in the Asia-Pacific area and throughout the world", 2008

Publication Highlights

Dixon JB, Bhathal PS, O'Brien PE. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Predictors of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and liver fibrosis in the severely obese. Gastroenterology 2001;121:91–100.

Dixon AF, Dixon JB, O'Brien PE. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding induces prolonged satiety: a randomized blind crossover study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2005;90:813–819.

Dixon JB, O'Brien PE, Playfair J, Chapman L, Schachter LM, Skinner S, Proietto J, Bailey M, Anderson M. Adjustable gastric banding and conventional therapy for type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2008;299:316–323.

Dixon JB, le Roux CW, Rubino F, Zimmet P. Bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes. Lancet 2012;379(9833):2300–2311.

Dixon JB, Schachter LM, O'Brien PE, Jones K, Grima M, Lambert G, Brown W, Bailey M, Naughton MT. Surgical vs conventional therapy for weight loss treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2012;308(11):1142–1149.


Scientific Staff
Dr Elisabeth Lambert
Dr Nora Straznicky

Clint Miller