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Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States, threatening the health of millions of Americans. President Clinton has been a major supporter of addressing the problem of obesity, especially in children. To date this condition has been challenging to both understand its origins and to treat. This article reviews the pre- and perinatal literature and related medical literature and suggests that intrauterine undernutrition (famine-like) conditions during the first trimester shows a promising area for further research to explore childhood and adult obesity.

KEY WORDS: Obesity, famine, pre- and perinatal period, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes.


We mention the references that preceded the recent development of Primal Health Research, and those that cannot be found in the Primal Health Research Data Bank.

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Bushe, C. & Holt, R. (2004) Prevalence of diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in patients with schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry (Suppl.) April, 47, S67-71.

Dundar, N.O., Anal, O., Dundar, B., et al. (2005). Longitudinal investigation of the relationship between breast milk leptin levels and growth in breast-fed infants. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism, February, 18(2), 181-7.

Odent, M. (1986). Primal health. London: Century-Hutchinson. (2nd edition. Clairview 2002)

Ravelli, G.P., Stein, Z.A., & Susser, M.W. (1976). Obesity in young men after famine exposure in utero and early infancy. New England Journal of Medicine, August, 12, 295(7), 349-53.

Savino, F., Nanni, G.E., Maccario, S., et al. (2004). Breast-fed infants have higher leptin values than formula-fed infants in the first month of life. Journal of Pediatric Endocrinololgy and Metabolism, 17(11), 1527-32.

Yura, S., Itoh, H., Sagawa, N., et al. (2005). Role of premature leptin surge in obesity resulting from intrauterine undernutrition. Cell metabolism, 1(6), 371-78.

Zhang, Y., Proenca, R., Maffei, M., et al. (1994). Positional cloning of the mouse obese gene and its human homologue. Nature, 372, 425-32.

Michel Odent, MD, Primal Health Research Center,

London, England

JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

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