Examining a Developmental Approach to Childhood Obesity: The Fetal and Early Childhood Years—Workshop in Brief


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Recent scientific evidence points to the origins of childhood obesity as an outcome of the dynamic interplay of genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors, with a compelling body of evidence suggesting that both maternal and paternal nutritional and other exposures affect a child’s risk of obesity. The burgeoning field of epigenetics has led researchers to speculate that many known associations between early developmental exposures and later risk of childhood obesity are mediated, at least in part, through epigenetic mechanisms. On February 26–27, 2015, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board and the IOM and the National Research Council Board on Children, Youth, and Families convened a workshop in Washington, DC, to explore the body of evolving science that examines the nexus of biology, interaction between biology and environment, and developmental stage on risk for childhood obesity. The workshop focused on the prenatal period, infancy, and early childhood and evidence from animal and human studies.