Mounting evidence indicates that many of the risk factors contributing to type 2 diabetes may be triggered by events in the womb and by the post-natal environment. Early life influences – such as maternal under or overnutrition, diabetes in the mother, low birth-weight followed by childhood overfeeding – increase the risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases later in life. Chronic undernutrition leads to stunting and low pregnancy weight gain and is associated with inadequate nutrition in pregnancy.
Tackling the socio-economics determinants of the poor nutritional status of girls and women is critical, particularly in developing countries were the rate of undernourished women of reproductive age is high. A life-course approach is necessary to reduce the intergenerational transmission of diabetes; prevention must start with a healthy pregnancy, adequate nutrition and growth in foetal and early postnatal life.