Professor of Kinanthropology
University of Quebec in Montreal
Obesity begins before birth? Effects of maternal nutrition, stress, and other health behaviors on children’s lifelong cardiometabolic health
November 10th, 2014
Academic A G008 at Binghamton University
5:10 t0 6:15 PM (Doors open at 5 PM)
Cosponsored with Department of Anthropology, CIW’s big idea “Feeding a Hungry World,” and CIW Dining Hall
Prevalence of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases is already high in industrialized nations, and during the past decades, has become a major public health concern in low-income countries, as well. Despite our best interventions targeting individual health behaviors such as diet and physical activity patterns, this burden continues to grow. Thus, many researchers have turned their attention to risk factors that might begin earlier in life – very early. Research in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease has shown that poor nutrition during pregnancy can increase risk of cardiometabolic diseases in the offspring that persist throughout life. These effects are not limited to nutrition, but are also evident following exposure to prenatal stress and other maternal health characteristics. An adverse early environment might be a particularly important risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases in disadvantaged populations, such as among underserved communities or people living in poverty, and in low-income countries where undernutrition and infectious diseases remain prevalent. Turning our attention to pregnant women might provide another method to tackle the burden of cardiometabolic diseases in these populations.
Kelsey Dancause is Professor of Kinanthropology at the University of Quebec in Montreal (Canada). She received her B.A. in psychology from Kansas State University in Manhattan, her M.A. in anthropology from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, and her Ph.D. in anthropology from Binghamton University (SUNY). Kelsey’s graduate work focused mostly on maternal and child nutrition (in Karamoja, Uganda) and on population health (in Vanuatu, South Pacific) during rapid cultural change. This research highlighted the role of even subtle dietary changes during modernization on health across the lifespan, and the role of the early environment on later health. In addition to its links with changing activity and dietary patterns, rapid cultural change might represent a stressor that affects not only maternal health, but also the health and development of children. Kelsey thus began postdoctoral work in maternal stress and child development at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, to incorporate analyses of stress into her studies. She is a part of the Stress in Pregnancy International Research Alliance (SPIRAL), which uses exposure to natural disasters during pregnancy (in Quebec Canada, Iowa USA, and Queensland Australia) to investigate the effects of prenatal stress exposure on child development. Kelsey added assessments of physical growth and cardiometabolic health into these studies, which highlighted the role of maternal stress on poor growth in infancy, later obesity, and features of insulin resistance. With this training, she is designing studies of the interactive roles of maternal nutrition, stress, and activity patterns on child obesity risk in low-income countries and in disadvantaged communities in Montreal.
Reading will be posted to the EvoS blackboard group. Anyone with a Binghamton University email address can request to be added to the blackboard group by emailing EvoS[at]binghamton[dot]edu.
Video will be posted following the talk.