Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: June 20, 2005
Publication Date: October 20, 2005
Citation: Waterland, R. 2006. Does nutrition during infancy and early childhood contribute to later obesity via metabolic imprinting of epigenetic gene regulatory mechanisms? In: Hernell, O., Schmitz, J., editors. Feeding During Late Infancy and Early Childhood: Impact on Health. Nestle Nutrition Workshop Series Pediatric Program, Volume 56. Basel:S. Karger AG. p. 157-174. Technical Abstract: Individual differences in physiological and behavioral factors affecting body weight regulation may be determined not only by genes, but also by environmental influences during development. This article reviews briefly evidence from human epidemiologic and animal model studies that during infancy and early childhood nutrition serves as an important signal for ‘fine-tuning’ various metabolic systems, and thereby influences obesity susceptibility throughout life. The primary focus is an evaluation of the specific hypothesis that nutrition during infancy and early childhood modifies obesity susceptibility by perturbing epigenetic mechanisms. Improving our understanding of the biologic mechanisms whereby nutrition influences developmental epigenetics may eventually enable the formulation of early postnatal nutritional interventions aimed at decreasing individual obesity susceptibility.