Keynote Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Society of NZ and the Nutrition Society of Australia

Maternal nutrition and the early life origins of obesity  (387)

Beverly Muhlhausler 1
  1. University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia

A world-wide series of epidemiological and experimental animal studies have provided evidence that the pathway to obesity can being very early in life, and that environmental exposures before birth and/or in early infancy play a key role in defining an individual’s susceptibility to obesity through the life course. The nutritional environment an individual experiences during these periods plays a particularly important role in the early life origins of obesity and poor metabolic health. Initial studies in this area focused on the consequences of an inappropriately low or inappropriately high nutrient supply, both of which are associated with an increased risk of obesity in postnatal life and leading to the concept of a U-shaped relationship between early life nutrient supply and later metabolic health. More recently, it has become clear that not only global over or undernutrition, but also excesses and deficiencies of key dietary components, including specific fatty acids, protein and/or key micronutrients, also plays a critical role in the early life origins of obesity and metabolic disease. This has resulted in growing interest in the potential for nutritional interventions applied during pregnancy or early infancy to improve the future metabolic health of children. This presentation will provide a background on the role of nutrition in the early life origins of obesity and our current understanding of the underlying mechanisms, with a particular focus on studies which have set out to test the potential for nutritional interventions in pregnancy or infancy to improve metabolic health outcomes in the child.