Applying Nuclear Techniques to Understand Link between Early Life Nutrition and Later Childhood Health

Open for proposals

Project Type

Coordinated Research Project

Project Code




Approved Date

7 April 2017


3 - Active - Ongoing

Start Date

16 August 2017

Expected End Date

15 August 2023

Participating Countries

South Africa


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are increasing worldwide, with overweight and obesity major risk factor for NCDs. It is clear that obesity is a complex multi-factorial disease with a number of biological triggers, combined with social and environmental influences. Evidence suggests that several early life factors significantly contribute to the development of obesity and the period from conception to 2 years of age is a critical period for long-lasting programming effects on later obesity and associated NCDs. Much of the current evidence on the relationship between early nutrition and longer term health is based on simple measures of body weight and height. However, there is a need to better capture the dynamic nature of growth during early life and understand the early nutrition - later health relationship by assessment of body composition. The challenge of measuring body composition during the first 1000 days will be addressed within this CRP by stable isotope dilution techniques. The proposed CRP will investigate the relationship between the first 1000 days and later childhood health and explore whether interventions during the first 1000 days can influence childhood body composition and associated NCD risk factors. The use of stable isotope techniques to assess body composition across the life course represents an unique opportunity to collect much needed information on the link between early life and later heath and to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to prevent childhood obesity and later NCD risk. The information from this CRP will provide guidance for policy makers on tailoring early nutrition intervention programs to prevent the long term risk of NCDs. 


The overall objective is to provide knowledge on the link between early life nutrition and later childhood health and on the effectiveness of early life interventions to reduce later childhood obesity.

Specific objectives

Obtain new information on body composition by stable isotope techniques across the life course from pre-conception to childhood and evaluate the influence of early life interventions on childhood body composition .

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