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Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Health in Early Life

2nd Edition, October 27, 2009

Complete Document

Detail Summary

Active, Most Current

Additional Comments:
ISBN: 978-1-4200-8231-9
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Product Details:

  • Revision: 2nd Edition, October 27, 2009
  • Published Date: October 27, 2009
  • Status: Active, Most Current
  • Document Language: English
  • Published By: CRC Press (CRC)
  • Page Count: 430
  • ANSI Approved: No
  • DoD Adopted: No

Description / Abstract:

Foreword to Second Edition

Many changes have taken place in the fi eld of child development since the 1st edition of this monograph, most of them undesirable: along with the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity and all the accompanying present and future health problems, levels of cardiorespiratory fi tness and physical activity have reduced. Changes in lifestyle have been blamed for this, and explanations for the negative consequences have been sought. A lot of new information has been gained, especially on genetic, pre-, and perinatal factors and others that infl uence the growing organism during the initial weeks, months, and years of life until school age. This information concerns especially nutrition and weight gain from the initial periods of life, timing of adiposity rebound, physical activity, and overall lifestyle in the present world.

Despite the enhanced attention being given to these developmental problems, the increase of obesity prevalence has not been reversed—more to the contrary. This concerns again nearly all countries of the world, including those where only social and economic conditions have changed recently, and too rapidly. Nutrition and physical activity, which infl uence the organism from the very beginning of its life, have been others considered to be essential, as some of their character might deviate following growth and development in different ways—both positive and negative. Not only genetic but also epigenetic factors might increase or decrease the sensitivity of the organism to other factors to enhance or reduce the deposition of fat, along with changed physical fi tness and health. As emphasized in the 1st edition, such consequences may manifest not only immediately but also during later periods of life, depending on the additional infl uences of environmental factors, and also on early modifi ed sensitivity of the organism. Changes concern not only adipose but also many other tissues and functions. The timing of various periods of growth and the range, intensity, and duration of such infl uences can have a decisive role, especially in the very early periods of life.

Recently, an increasing number of publications have appeared—especially where the interaction of both nutrition and physical activity has been considered. All of them would be diffi cult to analyze, but at least mentioning them seems to be important as their topics indicate the essential role they have played in the changes of child growth and development, including obesity development. These data concerned also the initial nutritional status and body mass index of the mother, her regimen of nutrition and physical activity, the resulting birth weight of her offspring, duration of breast-feeding, start of bottle-feeding, and complementary diet—especially the amount and ratio of protein, the size of weight increments during the initial weeks and months of postnatal life, and the changes in body mass index and age of adiposity rebound of the offspring. Even the beginning of independent walking and increased physical activity of the child have been analyzed in relation to weight and adiposity development; all this can vary considerably in individual children and can also be signifi cantly infl uenced by stimulation and overall education. Family situation and model, the educational level of parents and caretakers, living conditions, and lifestyle play an additional and very important role. Not only nutritional but also motor stimulation have been elaborated for infants and children, and showed signifi cant positive consequences.

As noted in the 1st edition, some of the mentioned aspects have also been studied in experimental models using laboratory animals, which followed the effect of various stimuli—mostly early nutrition and physical activity during the longer lifespan until adulthood. Such experiments, however, can give only some incentives. Delayed effects during adulthood, as well as the consequences of the physical activity level during pregnancy, and changes in adult offspring have not yet been suffi ciently reported in the literature. The signifi cant effects of activity on so many metabolic, biochemical, hormonal, and cardiorespiratory parameters of the organism might be transferred to the fetus—similar to nutritional infl uences. In this respect, further studies are necessary, but are possible only in experimental models in laboratory animals.

Despite the increasing amount of information on young children, this information is still rare compared with that on schoolchildren and adolescents. Somatic data concern height, weight, BMI, and skinfolds, but rarely other parameters. The evaluation of more physiological parameters—cardiorespiratory system of the young child, body posture, gross and fi ne motor functions, food intake, level of physical activity, and resulting energy output—has been studied again, more rarely in complex studies following development from more aspects of the same preschool children, and also longitudinally. According to the undesirable changes during the last decades, information from previous studies is still important, as it represents more suitable and adequate criteria on body mass index, body composition, and physical fi tness than the average data assessed recently or at present.

The development of motor habits and skills is important in a manner similar to adaptation to an adequate diet. As defi ned by psychologists, a child can learn to learn or not to learn, and the child can learn to eat properly or not, or can learn to move or not to move. All this is essential for following food behavior and physical activity habits, preferring or avoiding improper foodstuffs and sedentarism, which may result from inadequate or understimulated development of all the necessary body systems.

Even when not enough is known, it does seem that old truths are repeated. However, increasing deterioration of cardiorespiratory fi tness and reduction of physical activity regimens repeatedly assessed, along with overweight and obese schoolchildren and adolescents during the last decades, indicates that more attention should be paid to these problems. Resulting health problems manifested mostly later in life—for example, diseases of the cardiovascular system, especially hypertension, atherosclerosis, and others—are another reason for this. Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and orthopedic and psychological problems represent, in addition, a heavy burden on health care and economic expenses.

Preservation of health and overall fi tness until an advanced age, along with desirable life expectancy with full activity, is closely associated with lifestyle at an early age, as indicated by observations in some long-living populations. Prevention is better than cure—which emphasizes in addition an early start at the very beginning of life. According to continuing changes to the environment and resulting lifestyle changes in the present world, fresh new ideas and innovative educational approaches have to be defi ned as early as possible.