UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases
Prevention starts before conception
Members of the DOHaD Council at the 2010 meeting in Santiago, about to
meet the then Chilean president, public health physician Michelle Bachelet
The developmental origins of health and disease is an idea, a movement, and a professional organisation. As an organisation DOHaD holds annual international meetings, last year in Santiago, Chile, this year in Portland, Oregon, USA. At the end of her address to the DOHaD meeting last year Michelle Bachelet, the second Chilean president trained as a public health physician, said that after her term she would be delighted to be part of DOHaD.
This month World Nutrition publishes a position paper from DOHaD, addressed to the representatives of UN Member States due to assemble in New York this September for the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases and their prevention and control. The message of the paper supports and amplifies the conclusions of many key reports published in the last decades. This is that attempts to prevent and control non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and various cancers, that focus on middle-age adults, at the time in life when such diseases generally become apparent, generally will not work.
This is because the seeds of these diseases are sown earlier in life. Policies and actions designed to prevent obesity and chronic diseases need to directed far more for the sake of children than adults. That is where far more public money and resources should go. But the DOHaD message is entirely more radical. It is that the principal focus of prevention should be on the next generations, because the seeds of health and disease are sown at conception – and before conception.
We publish the position paper of DOHaD in WN this month as a service to a sister organisation, and also because the evidence in favour of the basic position of DOHaD as an organisation is compelling, and the policy implications are profound.
- To promote co-ordination of a research strategy in different countries, for the scientific exploration of early human development in relation to chronic disease in later life
- To promote the development and application of public health strategies to prevent chronic disease
- To advocate for the need for funds from governmental and non-government sources for research in the developmental origins of health and disease
- To champion training opportunities for scientists and clinicians
- To foster regular meetings to discuss research findings and potential intervention
- To promote the interchange of ideas, staff and expertise between laboratories across the world
- To make representations to government, non-government organisations and other relevant agencies concerning the health implications of DOHaD