Epidemiological and experimental studies have and continue to offer valuable insight into the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis, which emphasizes the importance of early-life nutritional and environmental changes on the increased risk of metabolic diseases in later life. It is now known that non-communicable chronic diseases that were previously associated with lifestyle and genetics have their origins early in life. It is well established that early life environmental signals, including nutrition, set the stage for long-term health and disease risk—effects that span multiple generations. This relationship began still in the intrauterine period and extends throughout the critical period of development. Many types of nutritional challenges including caloric restriction, macronutrient excess, and micronutrient insufficiencies have been shown to induce early life adaptations that produce long-term dysfunction. Several pathways have been suggested to underpin these associations, including epigenetic reprogramming of germ cells. While the mechanisms still remain to be fully investigated, the relationship of nutrition factors in early life and metabolic diseases are clear. This chapter focuses on the role that the nutrition presents during critical periods of development and its repercussions into adulthood.
Part of the book: New Insights Into Metabolic Syndrome