Why nutrition in early life matters

Background

The next generation is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, partly due to the increasing obesity epidemic and related non-communicable diseases.
Nutrition during fetal and early neonatal life stages is a relevant factor in the risk of developing chronic disease throughout all stages of life.

Objectives

The Task Force aims at providing scientific evidence to support guidelines for maternal and infant nutrition to ensure life-time optimal health. It also identifies risk factors for obesity and other health consequences at the earliest stages of life.

Impact

Since 2010, the outcomes of the task force activities have been published in 10 peer-reviewed publications cited on average 90 times. Poston et al 2011 bas been cited 236 times.
Importantly, the expert group on ‘Gestational Diabetes and Diet’ published 2 systematic reviews, including one in Diabetes Care (I.F. 13.397) in 2019 and the expert group on ‘Early Bacteria Colonisation’ published 1 systematic review in Critical Reviews in Microbiology in 2020, and is finalising an additional one.
The outputs of the task force are widely disseminated in major international conferences including 4 events in 2017, Food Matters Live 2018 and at the 13th European Congress of Nutrition (FENS2019).

For more detailed information, please contact Matthieu Flourakis at mflourakis@ilsieurope.be or Belinda Antonio at bantonio@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisor

Expert Groups

Review and Gap Analysis of Factors Affecting Body Composition in Fetal Life, Infancy and Childhood and Association to Long-Term Health’ – New

Background & Objectives
The clinical significance of differences in body composition (fat, bone and muscle) during fetal life, infancy and childhood on long-term health is currently not known.

This activity aims to:

  • Review current evidence on the impact of life factors on body composition during infancy and childhood;
  • Test for association between body composition at infancy and childhood and long term health outcomes;
  • Perform a gap analysis outlining areas where where evidence needs to be generated.

Output
These data will be compiled in peer-reviewed publication with the purpose of informing scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders on knowledge gaps and research directions.
Further, the outcomes will provide insight on critical periods of life where body composition measurement should be included to identify at-risk populations.

Scientific Review on Biomarkers in Early Life (Prenatal – Infancy) to Predict Childhood Obesity Risk and Metabolic Health New

Background & Objectives
The aim of the activity is to review biomarkers in early life that could be used to predict development of childhood obesity and metabolic health.
The activity will focus on invasive and non-invasive, perinatal and postnatal biomarkers.

This activity aims to:

  • Summarise the current evidence for early life (perinatal and postnatal) biomarkers that are able to predict childhood obesity and related metabolic health.
  • Emphasise relevance of combining conventional predictive markers (e.g. early weight gain) with novel applications of metabolomics, epigenetics and microbiota profiling. It will help to more accurately and effectively identify infants at risk to develop obesity.
  • Emphasise importance of validity and reliability of identified biomarkers for application of such biomarkers in (daily) practice.

Output
The highlighted (recent) findings in the development of biomarkers for early life prediction of metabolic health could be used to guide risk prediction and stratification.
This prediction may drive development and knowledge of personalised (infant) nutrition to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.
Researchers should become aware of the urgency to develop and validate new predictive biomarkers that are both easily detectable and responsive to nutritional interventions.

Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’ – In collaboration with Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Nutrition & Brain Health; Prebiotics and Probiotics Task Forces

Background & Objectives
Currently, half of the literature available on the gut-brain axis is state-of-the-art reviews or correlative studies and comprehensive mechanistic insights underlining the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain are lacking.
In this context, several Nutrition Task Forces decided to join forces to understand where we stand today regarding the mechanisms. Together the Task Forces will:

  • focus on translational aspects from pre-clinical to clinical studies;
  • focus on lifespan-related changes (but not diseaserelated) in gut structure and function which play a role in long-term immune and brain health;
  • discuss the nutritional and lifestyle interventions with positive impact on the lifespan gut structure/function and thus on immune and brain health.

Output
A workshop held in December 2019 brought together key experts from different fields of expertise to debate and discuss on the current knowledge and data gaps.
A perspective paper on this gap analysis is under construction. This publication will be followed by a series of web-seminars to discuss the identified gaps in more details.

Workshop: ‘Health Relevance of Lowering Post-Prandial Glycaemia in Children and Adolescents through Diet’ – In collaboration with the Dietary Carbohydrates Task Force

Background & Objectives
The workshop is planned for autumn 2020. The main objectives are to:

  • discuss the literature on the impact of lowering post-prandial glycaemic responses on health outcomes in infancy, childhood and adolescence;
  • debate the role of limiting high glycaemic excursions for metabolic disease prevention, with a specific focus on glycaemic control and risk markers related to metabolic disease prevention (Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease);
  • the way by which lower post-prandial glycaemia is obtained will be discussed especially regarding the long term effect.

Output
The outcomes will be published as to reflect the state of the art in the field.

Expert Group Members

Review and Gap Analysis of Factors Affecting Body Composition in Fetal Life, Infancy and Childhood and Association to Long-Term Health’ – New

Available soon

Scientific Review on Biomarkers in Early Life (Prenatal – Infancy) to Predict Childhood Obesity Risk and Metabolic Health New

Available soon

Publications

All Publications

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