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.