DIET AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AS A UNIVERSAL FOUNDATION FOR CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT AND LIFELONG HEALTH
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There is strong evidence that good nutrition and regular physical activity reduce the risk of several short-term health problems like anaemia or obesity, while also preventing long-term diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis or cardiovascular diseases. It is important, however, to analyse this relationship under a holistic approach to the concept of health, which goes far beyond disease prevention and comprises well-being. From this perspective, health can be seen as the condition that allows the individual to express his full potential as a human being, considering its interdependent dimensions: physical, intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, vocational, financial and environmental. A healthy lifestyle, including not only diet and physical activity, but also sleeping patterns, as well as other factors that have influence on mental and social well-being, is crucial for an optimal child development. The present analysis focuses on children´s diet and physical activity as key determinants of health under a life-course approach. We discuss the early origins of health and disease, along with factors associated with the “building” of diet and physical activity habits that set the foundations for lifelong health.
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