Early Life Nutritional Programming of Obesity: Mother-Child Cohort Studies

Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2013;62:137-145

Background: The obesity epidemic has resulted in more overweight/obese women before and during pregnancy. Their offspring tend to have higher birth weights and more body fat, and carry an increased risk of obesity later in life. These effects may partly be related to the heightened risk of gestational diabetes, occurring in at least 16% of all pregnancies irrespective of current body weight.

Methods: An ILSI Europe workshop reviewed the key contributors leading to adverse outcomes in pregnancy and childhood, including gestational weight gain and nutrition. New research opportunities from prospective mother-child cohort studies were explored.

Results: Simple measures of gestational weight gain provide insufficient detail of the underlying physiological and metabolic adaptations occurring in pregnancy, and should be complemented by measures of body composition, metabolic and endocrine responses. Recordings of maternal dietary intake and nutrient status are often limited and potential correlations with gestational weight gain have been poorly studied. Many pregnancies in overweight/obese women are uncomplicated and result in offspring of normal weight, leaving the main determinants of later adverse outcomes to be clarified.

Conclusions: The workshop provided insights of primary measurements for the characterization of sustainable nutritional intervention strategies in the mother, infant and child for preventing obesity in later life.

To download the publication, please click here.

For more information, please contact