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...animal study evidence

Whereas epidemiological studies and observational studies such as the Dutch Hunger Winter offer vital insight, the mechanistic understanding that comes from examination of the outcomes of controlled nutritional manipulations during gestation or early neonatal life will always rely upon study of appropriate animal models. This is especially true when considering the effect of maternal and early life nutrition on neurological and cognitive development, and on energy balance circuits. In particular, studies of maternal over-nutrition in rodent models suggest that nutritional status in foetal and neonatal life can affect hypothalamic (brain) energy balance systems and metabolic and body composition outcomes. These findings have implications for gestational overweight and obesity, and diet consumed during pregnancy, as additional contributors to the growing problem of obesity in the human population.