University of Iceland

Health, nutrition and early life events

Health, nutrition and early life events

“The idea that an individual‘s risk of disease can be affected by the environment in the womb is fascinating. It is also of course of great interest to determine the relationship between childhood growth and disease at adult age which currently has not yet been fully identified,” says Cindy Mari Imai, Ph.D. student in nutrition.

Imai did an internship with Inga Þórsdóttir at Rannsóknarstofa í Næringarfræði (RÍN) / Unit for Nutrition Research (UNR) at Háskóli Íslands. “The research I did, and the people I met, sparked my interest in coming back to Iceland to work on my Ph.D.”

“Various external factors, such as nutrition, can affect growth rate in childhood. By increasing our knowledge of the connections between early life events and later disease it is possible to develop appropriate recommendations to improve health. I feel lucky to have been given the opportunity to work on a subject that I am excited about.”

“The data I am working with was gathered through collaboration with the Icelandic Heart Association and the Unit for Nutrition Research. I’ve discovered that birth weight decreased as a result of the Great Depression that hit Iceland around 1930 and these individuals had a greater risk of being obese as adults. My next step is to investigate the relationship between childhood growth (8-13 years) and mortality from cardiovascular disease, and also examine growth from birth to 6 years of age and risk factors for cardiovascular disease in childhood.”

Supervisor: Ingibjörg Gunnarsdóttir professor at the Unit for Nutrition Research at Háskóli Íslands, School of Health Sciences.

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