Developmental perspectives on nutrition and obesity from gestation to adolescence.Prev Chronic Dis 2009; 6(3):A94PC
Obesity results from a complex combination of factors that act at many stages throughout a person's life. Therefore, examining childhood nutrition and obesity from a developmental perspective is warranted. A developmental perspective recognizes the cumulative effects of factors that contribute to eating behavior and obesity, including biological and socioenvironmental factors that are relevant at different stages of development. A developmental perspective considers family, school, and community context. During gestation, risk factors for obesity include maternal diet, overweight, and smoking. In early childhood, feeding practices, taste acquisition, and eating in the absence of hunger must be considered. As children become more independent during middle childhood and adolescence, school nutrition, food marketing, and social networks become focal points for obesity prevention or intervention. Combining a multilevel approach with a developmental perspective can inform more effective and sustainable strategies for obesity prevention.