The prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can be achieved at all ages. Although NCDs are usually associated with elderly people, all ages are at risk and their prevention can start even before birth. These diseases may start in the earliest years of life and keep progressing during childhood, adolescence, and old age.
Good nutrition in the first 1000 days (from conception to the child’s second birthday) is vital to establishing a child’s future health, with impacts that last into adulthood. The first 2 years of a child’s life are particularly important, as optimal nutrition during this period lowers morbidity and mortality, reduces the risk of chronic disease, and fosters better development overall.
The high prevalence of overweight and obesity can be related to a change in lifestyle, low levels of physical activity, and unhealthy diets based on the interaction between individual characteristics on food choices and obesogenic environments.
Efforts to eat healthy foods are often influenced by certain perceived or encountered barriers, such as the cost of healthy food, and lack of nutrition knowledge, information and skills. Culinary traditions, social pressure, habits, lack of availability of healthy foods, general lack of interest in making a change to one's diet, financial uncertainty, lack of time, rationing food within families, lack of transportation, lack of adequate kitchen equipment, and lack of social support networks have also been identified as barriers.
A review of studies showed that breakfast skipping is causally linked to obesity and that late lunch (after 15:00) has a negative effect on microbiota diversity and hinders weight loss. Late dinner (within two hours before bedtime) decreases glucose tolerance.
Meal planning is associated with a healthier diet and less obesity. Stay-at-home policies and feelings of having more time during COVID-19 seemed to have improved food literacy, i.e., increases in planning, selecting, and preparing healthy foods were found for women and men. The incorporation of activities teaching children how to prepare simple, cost-effective and healthy meals in health promotion programmes could lead to improvement in dietary habits that could be maintained through adulthood.
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