A large body of research shows us that the health of the U.S. population has declined over the last generation. Unless we act to reverse this trend, we will be facing a healthcare crisis in the decades ahead. This prediction is based on a number of trends that include:
- Declining physical activity and less nutritious diets
- Decreasing average birth weight
- Rising rates of obese and overweight adults and children
- Escalating rates of type 2 diabetes
- Increasing rates of uncontrolled hypertension
- Rising rates of hospitalization due to heart failure
- Surging rates of nutrition-related chronic diseases
- Decreasing longevity and reduced quality of life
These trends will give rise to a prolonged healthcare and economic crisis, as greater numbers of people require increasingly intensive healthcare services in the coming decades.
Fortunately the foundation of scientific knowledge needed to reduce the burden of disease and create healthier communities has already been laid: The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHAD) is a growing body of research that shows how gene-environment interactions, beginning in the womb, play a critical role in determining an individual's life-long health profile. In other words, our adult health experiences are shaped during the earliest moments of life.
This research demonstrates that the health of individuals and - by extension, the population - depends on good nutrition immediately before and during the first 1,000 days after conception. Further, the effects of poor nutrition in early life are passed on to subsequent offspring, resulting in health effects that endure over two to three generations. That's called the 100-year effect.
The health of the next two generations, and the associated quality of life implications and healthcare costs, will be determined by the nutrition mothers and their children receive today. A revolution in how we eat can improve the health and well-being of individuals and translate directly into significant health and economic benefits for society. In other words, maternal health drives population health.
The mission of the OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness is to reduce chronic diseases throughout life by promoting healthy, nutrient-rich diets based on wholesome foods before conception, during pregnancy and lactation, and in infancy and early childhood.
Wholesome nutrition includes the daily consumption of whole grains, fruit, vegetables, low-fat sources of protein - and minimal amounts of sugars, sweetened drinks and animal-based fats.
The OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness is dedicated to improving the health of people across the globe to ensure a healthy future for the next generations.