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Childhood Obesity

Like many behaviours in children, eating behaviours are largely learned under the influence of physiological, psychological and environmental factors.Thefirst year of life is characterised by rapid growth and changes in body composition.Simultaneously infant's eating patterns and food intake move through a predictable developmental stage with dietary patterns changing more during this period in life than in any other.The transition from an exclusive milk diet to a varied diet of solids and liquids is an important process in early development.This weaning process introduces infants to the feeding characteristic of adults, to flavour, texture, cultural schedules and the etiquette of dining.At no other time does children's eating behaviours present the opportunity to be developed and modelled.
The proposal that early developmental periods presents opportunities for alteration, anatomically and physiologically, making individuals suspectible to disorders later in life has been of considerable interest to researchers in recent years (Martorell et al 2001).In 1992 Barker & co workers proposed the "fetal origin" hypothesis indicating poor fetal nutrition may lead to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.Much research on obesity in children has concentrated on the role of genetics (ref), breastfeeding (ref) and eating patterns in adolescents (ref).However, few have failed to recognise the relevance of the eating behaviour, as shaped during the weaning period in infants and the expression of eating disorders like that of obesity in later years (ref – Young & Drewett).
The prevalence of obesity in children has increased significantly over the years (ref) and increasing the risk of adult morbidity and mortality has made obesity in children a global public-health concern. It is widely recognised that familial patterns and genetic factors interplay in the development of obes

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