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Choices in First 1,000 Days May Safeguard Health

Choices in First 1,000 Days Following Conception May Safeguard Health of Future Generations

New Zealand has a unique opportunity to safeguard the health of its future generations according to the founders of the Early Life Nutrition Coalition, speaking at the organisation’s New Zealand launch today (Monday 26th March 2018) at the meeting of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) in Auckland.

According to the newly formed Early Life Nutrition Coalition, a subcommittee of PSANZ, healthier nutrition and lifestyle choices made in the first 1,000 days before, during and after pregnancy will significantly reduce the risk of New Zealand children suffering from obesity, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life.

The Coalition’s campaign in New Zealand begins with a Community Service Announcement to be screened on TVNZ focused on healthy weight gain and diet during pregnancy; the importance of breastfeeding for as long as possible; when and how to introduce solids, including known allergens, to infants; and why positive nutritional role modelling by parents is crucial.

“Nutrition and lifestyle changes are ways in which we can reduce the incidence of these diseases in future generations. For many of these diseases, what we do in the earliest stages of development are the most influential,” says Early Life Nutrition Coalition spokesman, Professor Frank Bloomfield, Director of the Liggins Institute and a Consultant Neonatologist at Auckland City Hospital

At the first New Zealand meeting of the PSANZ in eight years, the Early Life Nutrition Coalition, an affiliation of professional, academic, advocacy, corporate and healthcare groups from New Zealand and Australia, launched its New Zealand campaign to help new and expectant parents, as well as health care professionals, make better nutrition and lifestyle choices in the vital first 1,000 Days before, during and after pregnancy.

“We know that during pregnancy and throughout infancy, there are critical times when a fetus and baby are particularly susceptible to the influence of nutrition and lifestyle,” Professor Bloomfield adds.

“Of all the environmental aspects, nutrition is the number one thing that can be influenced. Evidence continues to show that good nutrition not only helps maximise growth and development in early life, it also reduces risk factors for numerous diseases in later life, such as heart disease and cancer.”

“Much of what we say to expectant parents is focused on what not to do while pregnant,” says Coalition Member and Associate Professor at Auckland University, Dr Clare Wall.

“We’re trying to focus on the positive steps that can be taken. There is a huge opportunity to ensure future generations are getting the best possible start to a healthy and long life,” she says.

“It is the Coalition’s aim to promote actions that can be taken during this critical window of opportunity. While the Coalition would like to facilitate behaviour change in some areas, our aim is to reinforce the positive steps parents can take to enhance the future health of generations to come,” she added.

The New Zealand Health Survey 2016/17 found that:

• around 1 in 8 children (aged 2–14 years) were obese (12%)
• a further 21% children were overweight but not obese
• 18% of Māori children were obese
• 29% of Pacific children were obese
• children living in the most deprived areas were 2.5 times as likely to be obese as children living in the least deprived areas[1]
• the child obesity rate increased from 8% in 2006/07 to 12% in 2016/17.

Founding members of the Early Life Nutrition Coalition (@EarlyLifeHealth #EarlyLifeHealth #ELNCoalition), which is a sub-committee of the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand, include: Australian Diabetes Educators Association; Australian Diabetes Society; Caring and Living as Neighbours; The Children’s Nutrition Research Centre, University of Queensland; Danone Early Life Nutrition; Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Society; Dietitians Society of Australia; Healthy Start Workforce Project; The Liggins Institute; Menzies Institute for Medical Research; Murdoch Children’s Research Institute; Pharmaceutical Society of Australia; United Way Australia; and the University of Auckland.


[1] Adjusted for differences in age, sex and ethnicity.

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