Nutrition in the First 1000 Days: The Origin of Childhood Obesity

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Aug 23;13(9):838. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13090838.


Childhood obesity is a major global issue. Its incidence is constantly increasing, thereby offering a threatening public health perspective. The risk of developing the numerous chronic diseases associated with this condition from very early in life is significant. Although complex and multi-factorial, the pathophysiology of obesity recognizes essential roles of nutritional and metabolic aspects. Particularly, several risk factors identified as possible determinants of later-life obesity act within the first 1000 days of life (i.e., from conception to age 2 years). The purpose of this manuscript is to review those key mechanisms for which a role in predisposing children to obesity is supported by the most recent literature. Throughout the development of the human feeding environment, three different stages have been identified: (1) the prenatal period; (2) breast vs. formula feeding; and (3) complementary diet. A deep understanding of the specific nutritional challenges presented within each phase might foster the development of future preventive strategies.

Keywords: breast feeding; child nutrition; diet; obesity; overweight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pediatric Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Risk Factors