Epidemiology of Early Nutrition and Adult Health: Metabolic Adaptations and Body Composition

  • Daniel J. HoffmanEmail author
  • Alessandro Bigoni
  • Adriana Carrieri
Part of the Healthy Ageing and Longevity book series (HAL, volume 9)


The intrauterine period of growth is extremely important for lifelong health as growth and development of fetal tissues and organ systems occur at a very rapid pace. Any perturbation to this process, either through nutritional insufficiency or exposure to endocrine disruptors or toxins, not only interrupts or delays the growth process, but in some cases results in metabolic abnormalities that challenge adult health. In terms of early childhood nutrition and growth, a number of studies have reported that stunting is a risk factor for obesity and central adiposity. However, other studies have reported divergent findings. Regardless, it is well accepted that nutrition during early childhood through adolescence has a profound effect on healthy growth and deficits in energy or specific micronutrients have a negative impact of adult height and growth. More important, the growth pattern, such as slow or rapid growth, is now considered to be a primary factor in terms of body composition and health. This chapter will describe the relationship between poor growth in utero and early childhood as a risk factor for adult chronic diseases based on epidemiologic and clinical studies. As well, the influence of poor growth during childhood on metabolism and body composition will be explored as potential areas in which mechanisms may explain epidemiological studies.


Early nutrition Metabolic adaptation Body composition Lifelong health Adult disease Obesity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Hoffman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alessandro Bigoni
    • 2
  • Adriana Carrieri
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional Sciences, Program in International NutritionCenter for Childhood Nutrition Education and Research, New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health; Rutgers, the State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of São Paulo School of Public HealthSão PauloBrazil

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