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Is childhood obesity programmed from birth, even from the conception of the child? Is the diet of the first three years of life a determining factor? The point with Professor Patrick Tounian, Head of Pediatric Nutrition and Gastroenterology at the Armand-Trousseau Hospital in Paris.
In terms of childhood obesity, are the dice thrown before the age of 3?
- Patrick Tounian: "One thing is safe and scientifically proven: genetic predisposition is essential in obesity, which is a disease affecting brain centers of weight regulation, so some individuals are genetically and biologically programmed as soon as they are conceived! that some indirect phenomena intervening during the prenatal period, such as major malnutrition in the expectant mother, smoking or gestational diabetes, intervene in utero on brain programming and promote obesity in the unborn child. It is a pure hypothesis, but it is possible, even if it remains to be demonstrated!
Is not feeding the first years of a child's life essential to prevent obesity?
- Patrick Tounian: "A lot has been said on the subject, especially regarding breastfeeding that would protect children from obesity.Although I argue that breast milk is the best food that can be given to an infant, I refute Breastfeeding does not protect children from obesity, nor does it cause it, and the theory that excess omega-6 over omega-3s would promote later obesity is pure hypothesis Idem about excess protein There are currently no objective elements to support such claims, and I insist, even the eating habits that we take during the first three years have nothing to do with obesity It is not because a child of 2 years does not eat pasta or fries that he will not be obese! "
There is nothing to do to change this predisposition?
- Patrick Tounian: "No, since it is a genetically programmed disease, it is essential for the child to have regular physical activity as well as a balanced and varied diet, to protect him from deficiencies but not from obesity. obesity of the child in charge at an early stage, but that will not change his weight programming.There is no solid evidence today to say that obesity can be prevented by changing the diet of the first years of life. "
* Patrick Tounian is also Secretary General of the French Pediatric Society.