ABSTRACT: Children comprise one-fifth of Europe's population. Promoting child health and development is of key importance for society and its future. This position paper highlights opportunities of investing in gastrointestinal, liver, and nutritional research to promote child health and delineates priorities for research. Investing in child health plays a key role in the promotion of population health, well-being, and disease prevention lifelong, with large health economic benefits. Major opportunities for improving knowledge and translational application arise from recent scientific and technological developments, for example, the long-term impact of early environmental cues interacting with genes. Personalised approaches to therapy and prevention should be enhanced. Deciphering the microbiome and its effects on functions can help in promoting long-term health. Epigenetic research can help to understand how early environmental factors influence later gastrointestinal and hepatic health and disease. A linked nutrition and physical activity strategy can promote health and prevent nutritional deficiencies, inactivity, and chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as diabetes, to ensure optimal health and cognition. Special attention should be devoted to populations with low socioeconomic status, migrant background, and ethnic minorities, and to critical life periods, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, and childhood. Improved understanding of optimal nutrition and on maintaining gut and liver homeostasis throughout childhood will help prevent chronic diseases in later life.
*Dr von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Munich, Germany
†Children's Hospital Zagreb University Medical School, Zagreb, Croatia
‡UCL Institute of Child Health, London, UK
§Department of Paediatrics, Universita degli Studi di Napoli Frederico II, Naples, Italy
||ESPGHAN Committee on Gastroenterology, Department of Paediatrics, UZ Brussel, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
¶ESPGHAN Committee on Hepatology, Children's Hospital, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany
#ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition, VU University Medical Center and Emma Children's Hospital, AMC, Amsterdam
**Food &ThoughT, Den Haag
††Emma Children's Hospital, AMC, Amsterdam
‡‡Department of Paediatrics, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor Berthold Koletzko, ESPGHAN President, Dr von Hauner Children's Hospital, Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich, Lindwurmstr 4, 80337 München, Germany (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received 17 April, 2014
Accepted 18 April, 2014
The authors report no conflicts of interest.