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Nutritional models of the developmental programming of adult health and disease: Workshop on ‘Nutritional models of the developmental origins of adult health and disease’

  • Michael E. Symonds (a1) and Helen Budge (a1)


The ability to not only replicate but also extend the findings from both historical epidemiological studies and contemporary cohorts of the developmental programming of later disease are critical if the mechanisms by which early diet impacts on later disease are to be fully understood. To date, a plethora of models have been established, with the range including global changes in dietary input, imbalanced diets and diets deficient in single nutrients. Key factors in translating these findings to the human situation are the pronounced differences in the relative growth and development between large and small mammals from the time of conception through pregnancy, lactation and weaning. This disparity is reflected in the very different nutritional requirements between species and the substantial divergence between rodents and large animals in the ontogeny of many of the organ systems that are nutritionally regulated. For example, hypothalamic circuitry is much more developed in species with a long gestation and offspring are born with a mature hypothalamic–pituitary axis in sheep and man compared with mice and rats. Similarly, nephron number is established towards the end of gestation in large mammals compared with the lactational period in rats. These types of differences will impact on the ability of individual and combined nutritional interventions to reset developmental processes, and may be further compounded by the gender of a fetus. The challenge for future work in this exciting and dynamic area of research is to utilise these marked comparative differences to generate imaginative nutritional interventions in order to improve the viability, health and well-being of the offspring.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Professor Michael E. Symonds, fax +44 115 823 0626, email


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Nutritional models of the developmental programming of adult health and disease: Workshop on ‘Nutritional models of the developmental origins of adult health and disease’

  • Michael E. Symonds (a1) and Helen Budge (a1)


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