Nutritional approaches to breaking the intergenerational cycle of obesity

Beverly S. Muhlhausler, Jessica R. Gugusheff, Zhi Yi Ong, Mini A. Vithayathil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


The link between poor maternal nutrition and an increased burden of disease in subsequent generations has been widely demonstrated in both human and animal studies. Historically, the nutritional challenges experienced by pregnant and lactating women were largely those of insufficient calories and severe micronutrient deficiencies. More recently, however, Western societies have been confronted with a new nutritional challenge; that of maternal obesity and excessive maternal intake of calories, fat, and sugar. Exposure of the developing fetus and infant to this obesogenic environment results in an increased risk of obesity and metabolic disease later in life. Furthermore, increased caloric, fat, and sugar intake can occur in conjunction with micronutrient deficiency, which may further exacerbate these programming effects. In light of the current epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease, attention has now turned to identifying nutritional interventions for breaking this intergenerational obesity cycle. In this review, we discuss the approaches that have been explored to date and highlight the need for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian journal of physiology and pharmacology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Fetal programming
  • Intervention
  • Maternal nutrition
  • Maternal obesity
  • Micronutrients
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology (medical)

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