Nutrition in childhood - First Report

New strategies for surviving and thriving in a changing environment

Tuesday 18 January 2011, ORT House Conference Centre, London

This important conference, convened by Committee member Martina Watts* covered most topics dear to the McCarrison Society, with stress on the effects, and in particular the epigenetic effects of pre- and perinatal nutrition, will receive full coverage in the following newsletter (45/1).

There is increasing concern that children of this generation will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This national event presented the latest scientific evidence on the factors contributing to obesity, allergies and learning, mood and behavioural disorders. These included diet during pregnancy and childhood, modern lifestyles and persistent environmental exposures.

Leading researchers and clinicians explored the role of natural interventions and offered practical, evidence-based and cost-effective approaches on how to manage and, in many cases, prevent common childhood conditions.

The conference explained how the uterine environment exerts important ‘programming’ effects on the fetus, triggering biological responses which increase the risk of modern diseases and may have lifelong consequences.

It explored unexpected causes of obesity, and questioned whether messages intended to tackle obesity are outdated and misleading? It showed how nutritional and lifestyle strategies can be successfully employed to prevent and manage weight gain in childhood and how nutritional interventions have been successfully employed in modifying mood, behaviour and learning ability.

It also examined why allergies have increased and which nutritional agents show best evidence when supporting immune and digestive function in children and teenagers. Further, it demonstrated evidence-informed and cost-effective nutritional strategies which can be implemented by parents, teachers and providers of children’s healthcare services. Additionally it revealed how to manage ‘treats’ and influence taste preferences in children.

Key themes

  • The fundamental importance of pre-natal and early nutrition for future mental and physical health
  • The latest scientific evidence showing how epigenetic changes in utero may lead to developmental and metabolic disorders
  • The increasing social and health threats of learning, mood and behavioural disorders and what we can do about them
  • Latest developments in the provision of school meals in the current economic climate and an update on initiatives designed to improve the quality of food outlets surrounding schools
  • Evidence-informed practice and management in obesity prevention and care (obesity was going to be discussed Kate Neil [Director of the Centre for Nutrition Education and Lifestyle Management, Nutritional Therapist, Lecturer] was to have covered this but couldn't make it on the day: however her slides are available.)
  • Reasons underlying the exponential rise in food and inhalant allergies and nutritional strategies to minimise their development
  • Risks and effects of subclinical nutrient deficiencies in children and teenagers; the role of supplementation and potential safety issues
  • Nutritional approaches to the management of ‘fussy eaters’ and eating distress

Speakers included

Dr Alex Richardson’s keynote lecture explaining the ‘autism spectrum’ disorders… and the importance of the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids; particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and much more.

Richard Sharpe FRSE described fetal epigenetic programming: the effects of environmental and lifestyle exposure in early life.  Professor Richard Sharpe is a senior scientist at the Medical Research Council Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, Centre for Reproductive Biology, Edinburgh.

Alison Peacham, Education Development Manager, Senior Lecturer at The Institute for Optimum Nutrition explained The 'how to' of healthy eating.

Helen Lynam, Nutritional Therapist, Lecturer. Her paper ‘Identifying and managing eating distress in children and teenagers’ described how she teaches parents and their children suffering from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexoria how to break this often vicious and sometimes fatal cycle of behaviour.

Michael Ash, Nutri-Link Ltd (Osteopath, Naturopath, Nutritional Therapist) gave an erudite paper discussing ‘Pregnancy, immunity and allergy prevention: the role of natural interventions in managing current and future health problems’.

This paper will be of particular interest to students of epigenetic programming.

Rachel Gow from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London discussed ‘Omega-3 fatty acids and the developing brain: the present status of child mental ill-health’.

Professor J T Winkler, Director, Nutrition Policy Unit,  explained his research regarding “School feeding and 'the school fringe': factors affecting food choices inside and outside the classroom”

The conference was organized by Pavilion, the leading publisher and event organiser for those working in social and healthcare fields, whether they work in the statutory, private or voluntary sectors. They publish over 200 training packs, Mental Health Today and Learning Disability Today magazines.

For those unable to attend

Conference papers, as presented to the delegates on the day, are available on CD-rom after the conference for £60 + VAT. This useful reference will include: available speaker papers, speaker biographies and any additional inserts.

Fax: 0844 880 5062 Tel: 0844 880 5061 Web: www.pavpub.com Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Post this form to: FREEPOST RLUZ-ATEU-RYUZ, Pavilion, Richmond House, Richmond Road, Brighton, BN2 3RL


* Martina Watts, BA (Hons) DipION; MBANT; NTCC;

Nutritional Therapist/MSc Student Nutritional Medicine.

Martina is a nutritional therapist in private practice with a special interest in the physical and mental health of children and teenagers. She is an independent nutrition consultant for private and voluntary sector clients, schools, local government and the NHS. Martina also works as a health writer and is editor of Nutrition and Mental Health: A handbook (Pavilion Publishing). For more information please visit www.thehealthbank.co.uk

Tel:  +44 1273 552011; email:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

web:      www.thehealthbank.co.uk

MAC,DM book


Dietary Quality & Generational Health

The Fruits of Considering Nutrition with Evolution

Only when we understand the conditions under which our forebears evolved will we be able to understand how to avoid the 'diseases of civilisation' and to ensure that the brain, the organ that enabled us to rise to dominance over the rest of creation, continues to evolve positively, hopefully in sensitivity as well as capability.

Since the late 19th century when neo-Darwinism became common currency (which period coincided with the early use of artificial fertilizers) an ever-widening gulf has appeared in the understanding that health is related to dietary quality

Authors Crawford, M.; March, D. 1995 pp. xiv+298 pp.

NL 44/3 March 2011: Editor: David Marsh mail @ davidmarsh.org.uk
Assistant editor: Simon House shh @ ntlworld.com
Sub-ed/design/Webmaster: Trevor Bennett
Membership/Treasurer: Trevor Bennett This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Early Programming of Appetite & Diabetes

Early Programming of Appetite, Type 2 Diabetes, Breast Cancer and Ageing (Reported at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12668519, on 8 March 2011)

‘The major focus of our research is to understand the mechanistic basis of the relationships between poor early growth and subsequent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, breast cancer and premature death. There are a large number of epidemiological studies suggesting that such relationships exist, however the molecular mechanisms mediating such phenomena are not understood.’  Susan Ozanne *

The Cambridge University Institute of Metabolic Science is seeking mechanisms by which early environment and poor early growth correlate with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Insulin-signaling defects in humans may provide early indications of metabolic disease, as may early defects in adults who had a low birth weight. Ongoing studies in placenta will relate the expression of insulin signaling molecules to the nutritional status of both mother and baby.

Molecular markers for prediction of risk of type 2 diabetes in later life are being studied in a rodent model of early nutritional growth restriction. Defects in the pancreas, muscle, liver and adipose tissue in growth restricted rats are studied to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying these changes such as the role of epigenetic alterations.

Appetite is shown to be programmed by maternal nutrition during lactation. Down-regulation of appetite is seen to be secondary to poor maternal nutrition and so powerful that it prevents diet-induced obesity in mice. Restriction of growth during suckling increases life-span, during fetal life decreases life-span, changes that are associated with differences in kidney telomere length. They are examining telomere length, and expression of stress response proteins, that underlie the ageing process.

* Reader in Developmental Endocrinology, University of Cambridge Clinical School. See http://www.mrl.ims.cam.ac.uk/staff/PI/Ozanne/