Researchers have examined the most recent research on dietary exposures during the prenatal and early childhood phases in a study that was published in the Gastroenterology Clinics of North America Journal.
Background Rates of obesity have risen worldwide in recent years, impacting people of all ages, including youngsters. As childhood obesity persists into adulthood, it can result in chronic adult disorders such as type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
In order to overcome the difficulties connected with the management and treatment of obesity, prevention is essential. An important time associated with the probable development of obesity during childhood and later adulthood is the “first thousand days,” or the period between conception and 24 months of age.
Nutritional exposures that babies experience
Several health benefits of breastfeeding include improved cognitive development and a decreased risk of atopic disorders for both the mother and the child. Improved nutritional variety and quality may result from exposure to breast milk throughout infancy.
Human milk oligosaccharides, a type of natural prebiotic that has an impact on the newborn’s gut flora, are one type of nutrient that breastmilk provides that can support healthy infant growth.
Numerous observational studies have demonstrated that children who are breastfed experience lower obesity rates than children who are fed formula. Breastfeeding mothers may differ from non-breastfeeding mothers in terms of their parenting, families, and children.
According to a comprehensive randomized controlled experiment, exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding had no effect on adolescent body fat.
Because only breastfeeding women were compared, the findings might not be generalizable to studies involving just formula feeding or regions with greater obesity incidence.
When should complementary foods be introduced? Experts advise against starting supplemental feeding before four months of age since infants’ gastrointestinal and motor systems are still developing.
In both breastfed and formula-fed children, early initiation of supplemental feeding prior to the age of four months was associated with increased adiposity toward the middle of childhood.
Early introduction of supplemental foods before four months was linked to increased adolescent waist circumference, skinfold thickness, and truncal fat mass.
To prevent interfering with nursing, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises starting to introduce supplemental foods to infants at about six months of age.
Between formula-fed or breast-fed infants who began supplemental feeding at different times, a meta-analysis found no discernible changes in length, weight, and body mass index (BMI) z-scores calculated at 12 months or obesity/overweight at three years.
The ideal complementary feeding regimen should include a variety of foods and beverages, including meat, foods high in fat, and cereal, as well as foods low in fat. A systematic review found no significant correlation between these factors and growth, size, body composition, and/or the risk of being overweight, obese, or malnutrition. However, the study brought up a few crucial points:
sweetened beverages with sugar
For a variety of reasons, children under the age of two should not consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). Energy from nutrient-dense foods and beverages can be replaced by energy from sugary drinks, which can result in nutrient shortages. SSB use throughout infancy and the first few years of life may raise the risk of childhood obesity, according to scant research. Early SSB consumption may result in higher SSB consumption later in life, which could have detrimental health effects.
Increased fruit juice drinking at one year was associated with earlier and later BMI-z scores as well as higher SSB intake. Juice from fruits might be more harmful to young children. Fruit juice drinking was found to be associated with a larger increase in BMI in children aged one to six, but not in children older than six, according to a meta-analysis.
It describes changes in gene activity that take place without a change in the DNA sequence. Early-life nutrition can affect epigenetic changes linked to future health outcomes. Nutritional status during the first trimester of pregnancy has been linked to long-lasting epigenetic changes in the progeny.
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Throughout one’s life, the microbiome has been linked to numerous human disorders, including obesity. During delivery and possibly even before, the maternal microbiome affects the baby’s microbiome. Poor diet and maternal obesity can change the composition of breast milk, which can change the gastrointestinal microbiota of the child. The programming of the metabolism may change when the infant’s gut microbiome changes. In addition, early epigenetic processes, maternal eating habits, and gut microbiota may all contribute to the adult obesity of offspring.
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The results of the study demonstrated that early nutritional exposures may have a lasting impact on an individual’s health by influencing the risk of obesity and adiposity in later childhood and adolescence.
The likelihood of childhood obesity was investigated in relation to maternal dietary quality and the content and timing of supplemental foods and beverages during infancy.