A new study conducted by British researchers shows that overweight or obese women are more likely to give birth to obese offsprings. Also, women who smoked during pregnancy, had a low vitamin intake, or even didn’t breastfeed enough their infants have an increased chance of having weight-challenged children later in life.
The study was conducted by Prof. Siân M. Robinson, a researcher at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton in the U.K., and his research fellows.
Obesity was classified as an epidemic in the U.S. and a public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 8 percent of children aged 6-11 years in 1980 were obese, while the same figure jumped to 18 percent 22 years later. The number of obese adolescents has also skyrocketed from 5 percent in 1980 to 21 percent 3 years ago. And the current data might be even more worrisome.
Childhood obesity triggers an entire series of secondary diseases in children such as high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure, which can also lead to premature stroke and cardiovascular disease. In 2007, a study revealed that nearly 70 percent of obese children and adolescents had at least one risk factor to develop later heart disease.
So, scientists in both the U.S. and the U.K. are conducting assiduous studies to find the cause of the epidemics and new ways of preventing it before it triggers other diseases. In 2013, a study published in October in the journal Medical News Today suggested that one of the risk factors that trigger obesity in children may be the mother’s excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
During their study, Prof. Siân M. Robinson and her colleagues’ goal was to better understand how a combination of previously documented risk factors contributed to a child’s risk of developing obesity in his early life.
The U.K. team assessed nearly 1,000 mothers and their children and found that there are 5 major risk factors that boost the risk of childhood obesity: excess weight gain during pregnancy, obesity, smoking during pregnancy, low vitamin D level in the pregnant woman, and less than 1 month of breastfeeding soon after the birth.
Scientists found that only 15 percent of assessed children had no risk for early life obesity since their mothers were normal-weighted and led a healthy life-style before and/or during pregnancy. However, a whopping 33 percent of children had one risk factor, while 30 percent had two risk factors. Sixteen percent had three, while 6 percent had four or all five risk factors.
Researchers found that those with 4 or 5 risk factors at the age of 6 had nearly 50 percent higher body fat mass than those with no risk factor. Additionally, the high-risk group was 4.65 times more likely to become overweight or obese.
Prof. Robinson concluded that the strategies to prevent childhood obesity should start before the child was born and even before conception. But it’s all up to mothers to do it.
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