Hanson, Mark, Fall, Caroline, Robinson, Sian and Baird, Janis
Early life nutrition and lifelong health , London, GB British Medical Association 122pp.
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This report was commissioned after an ARM debate in June 2007 that called on the BMA's Board of Science to recognise and promote the importance of fetal and early life nutrition and its relationship to lifelong health. The Board of Science has previously produced three reports that broadly cover childhood nutrition and exercise. Growing up in Britain: ensuring a healthy future for our children (1999), discusses child health, with a focus on nutrition rather than exercise, from conception to the age of five. Adolescent health (2003) reviews nutrition, exercise and obesity in teenagers (13-19 year olds). It serves in part to develop the 1999 report in order to cover children up to the age of 12 years. It highlights the main aspects of childhood nutrition and exercise, draws attention to the role of the clinician, and provides links to sources of further information. It also makes recommendations for tackling the obesity epidemic in the UK. Preventing childhood obesity (2005) highlights the situation with regard to childhood obesity and the impact this can have on children's current and future health. It highlights the role of healthcare professionals and the environmental barriers to change that need to be overcome or removed.
This report concerns early life nutrition, predominantly fetal and infant nutrition, providing useful reference information and 'key messages' for healthcare professionals. It discusses the evidence-base and draws conclusions about the ways in which the patterns of early life nutrition can be improved, and the likely consequences of such improvements. This is now of critical importance in addressing the rapid increase in the incidence of so-called lifestyle diseases such as cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, which are linked to overweight and obesity. In addition there is now compelling evidence for a role of early life nutrition in setting the risk of other conditions including osteoporosis, asthma, lung disease and some forms of cancer.  Evidence is growing that early life nutrition can play a role in behavioural and cognitive problems in children and adolescents, and possibly even in cognitive decline and other aspects of ageing.
This report from the BMA Board of Science is intended to be a useful point of reference for a wide audience, including health professionals, policy makers and members of the public. The approach of the BMA Board of Science is to provide a clear synthesis of the available research, and to develop evidence-based conclusions and recommendations for policy.
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