PRESCHOOLERS MALNUTRITION


Is it true that

improper nutrition in young children

can lead to diseases when they become adults?

It has been found that poor growth of the baby when in the womb and during the first 2 years of life can have long term health effects. Stunting in the first 2 years of life leads to shorter adult height and poor mental skills in school going children. These stunted adults then give birth to the babies with low birth weight.

Thus, adequate nutrition in utero and in the first 2 years of life is essential for achieving optimum adult health.

Also children who are undernourished in the first 2 years of life and who put on weight rapidly later in childhood and in adolescence are at high risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

How does

poor nourishment in preschoolers

and lead to diseases in the adult?

The hypothesis of poor nourishment in babies and adult disease was first put forth by Dr. David J.P. Barker in early 1990?s. It has been found that first 2 years of life are critical period of growth and deviation in growth during this period can lead to irreversible damage. This then translates into problems as an adult.

How is adult height dependent on

nutrition in children

?

Babies who are small at birth tend to have shorter height as an adult. Similarly
poor nutrition
in the first few years of life can affect growth and leads ultimately to poor adult height unless there is compensatory growth in childhood.

Can poor nutrition in preschoolers affect brain development?
It has been found that stunting and poor nutrition between 12-36 months is associated with poor mental development and lower school grades in middle childhood.

How does poor nutrition in a preschooler affect the weight in its offspring?
Undernourished girls tend to become short adults and thus are more likely to have small children. Thus, adequate nutrition during critical periods of growth in girls helps to achieve proper adult height which may in turn prevent low birth weight in the offspring.

Is high cholesterol problem in adults also related to poor nutrition as a child?
Though malnutrition per se is not related to unhealthy cholesterol problems as an adult, it may be more related to high fat content and eating of junk food (food highly saturated with fat) that can lead to overweight problems and high cholesterol.

Is diabetes related to nutrition in childhood?
Research has shown that lower birth weight is associated with diabetes in adults. A study from India found that diabetes was associated with low weight at 1 and 2 years of age and accelerated growth later in childhood. More research is being done to determine whether this finding is not a chance association.

Is heart disease related to poor nutrition in adulthood?
It has been found that lower birth weight and low weight in children less than 1 years of age is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease in adults. It has also been found that stunted adults are at increased risk of heart attacks.

What can be done to prevent these problems?
Prevention of
Undernutrition in preschoolers
will have long term beneficial effects in adulthood and good outcome in adult health. Adequate nutrition in first 3 years is essential to prevent short adults, improve mental skills and chronic diseases.
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