Published October 30, 2017
A new book co-edited by Mulchand S. Patel, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of biochemistry, discusses how the path to obesity may start before birth or during infancy and how an individual’s metabolism can be permanently reprogrammed by overfeeding early in life.
“Fetal and Early Postnatal Programming and its Influence on Adult Health,” explores in detail the many fetal and immediate postnatal nutritional influences on adult health.
Patel and his colleagues have been studying animal models of obesity for decades with a special focus on how metabolism in an individual is influenced by the diet in the immediate postnatal period.
In a chapter of the book, Patel and his co-authors — Suzanne G. Laychock, PhD, professor of pharmacology and toxicology; Todd Rideout, PhD, associate professor in the School of Public Health and Health Professions; and Saleh Mahmood, PhD, research scientist in the Department of Biochemistry — discuss how this can occur.
“Our animal studies have shown that overfeeding, or the increased intake of carbohydrate-derived calories during the immediate postnatal period, can reprogram an individual’s metabolism, creating negative health outcomes later in life,” said Patel, who is a UB Distinguished Professor.
“Our findings presented in this chapter also show that biochemical processes responsible for this metabolic malprogramming during the suckling period in the rat cannot be reversed by moderate calorie restriction in the postweaning period.”
Patel noted that some current feeding practices in humans, such as providing children with milk formula without restriction (possible overfeeding), and early introduction of complimentary foods typically high in carbohydrates, such as cereals, juices and fruits, may also lead to such metabolic malprogramming.
According to Patel, there is evidence that fetal and early postnatal altered nutritional experience can have long-lasting effects, even resulting in epigenetic modifications that will affect not just the individual as he or she matures, but future generations as well.
“The beneficial effects of breast-feeding on reducing childhood obesity, as well as the impact of early nutritional intervention on the gut microbiome, are increasingly being recognized,” said Patel.
While breast-feeding enhances the health of individuals as they mature, altered aspects of fetal and early postnatal nutritional experience have more negative consequences.
“It is now well documented that altered nutritional experience during the fetal period (due to maternal malnutrition, obesity and diabetes) can have a long-lasting impact on metabolic capacities of the offspring, predisposing to the development of adult-onset obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome in adult life,” Patel said.
The book — published by CRC Press and co-edited by Jens H. Nielsen from the University of Copenhagen — reviews how maternal obesity and maternal malnutrition can contribute to developmental programming in the offspring.
It also discusses how the health of the mother in general can impact the offspring, and it outlines possible therapies for improving maternal health and that of the offspring.
It was written primarily for physicians, health care providers, dietitians, public health practitioners and basic scientists.