Moore Institute leaders talk with lawmakers

On January 15, during Legislative Days, Kent Thornburg, Ph.D., director of the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness, and Larry Wallack, DrPh., senior public health fellow at the Moore Institute, testified before the State of Oregon's House Committee on Health Care on the developmental origins of health and disease. They shared information about how the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity can be shut off for future generations, and offered suggestions about how public policy might support the growing scientific recognition that lifelong health begins before birth.

"The legislators were very interested in potential strategies and policies that could be used to improve the health of Oregonians," said Dr. Thornburg.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Wallack's presentation:

The risk of developing chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes is established much earlier than previously understood. Thanks to the field of research known as the developmental origins of health and disease, we now know that the most critical developmental period is during the first 1,000 days from conception to about age two. The two main risk factors are biological changes related to the nutritional flow from the mother to the fetus and the level of continual stress on the mother – the type of toxic stress brought on by unemployment, racism, and inadequate housing, for example.


While the mother is the environment of the developing fetus, the community is the environment of the mother. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America recently issued new findings that conclude our zip code is more important than our genetic code in determining our health. Where you live literally gets under your skin. Nutrition and toxic stress risk factors are mediated through our community environment and these conditions can be improved through changes in public policy and innovative public health programming. 


There is no more powerful space in our society than where our best science, our most compassionate values and our best instincts as a community come together. The urgency of the first 1,000 days is such a space.
Interested in learning more about the developmental origins of health and disease and the work of the Moore Institute? Attend the institute's February 12 lecture by Tessa Roseboom, Ph.D., senior international fellow, OHSU Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness, and professor of early development and health, Academic Medical Centre at the University of Amsterdam.