An article in The Journal of Physiology presents important research showing that events before birth can permanently change patterns of appetite and fat deposition in child and adult life.
A collaborative effort headed by Prof I. C. McMillen, of the Centre for the Early Origins of Adult Health at the University of Adelaide, Australia, and Dr C. L. Adam of The Energy Balance and Obesity Division of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, is shedding new light on potential causes of child and adult obesity. This research forms part of an exciting new area of physiology, the early origins of adult disease, which is beginning to unravel some of the mechanisms by which events which occur during the development of an individual can permanently affect postnatal physiology.
This paper reviews evidence from a series of studies which have shown that there are robust associations between the prenatal experience and patterns of fat deposition and appetite regulation in postnatal life. Both epidemiological studies across large sectors of human populations in a large number of countries, and animal models in which the prenatal environment has been artificially manipulated, have shown that prenatal exposure to either an increased or decreased levels of nutrition before birth leads to an increased risk of obesity in postnatal life.
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