Obese mothers can increase the risk of their children becoming obese?
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
An increased maternal body mass index (BMI) during pregnancy and a poor maternal diet can increases the risk of a child becoming obese later in life.
WHAT WE KNOW
By now, you’ve most likely heard that obesity is a national epidemic—with childhood obesity becoming a number one concern! What’s even more frightening is that obese mothers and a poor maternal diet can put offspring at risk for many health complications before they’re even born! The mother’s weight not only increases her own risk for many complications, but puts her child on a lifelong fight with childhood obesity!
Increased risks of obese mothers during pregnancy …
- Gestational diabetes (can lead to type-2 diabetes after birth) and hypertension
- Still births and miscarriages—obese mothers are 2 ½ times more likely to experience still births and miscarriages than normal-weight mothers
- A C-section and more complications with healing
Increased risk of offspring with obese mothers …
- Small and large birth weights
- Childhood and adult obesity
- Metabolic effects—diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease, etc.¹
HOW DO WE KNOW THIS?
A literature review published in Nutrition Research summarized prenatal influences on childhood obesity. Prenatal dietary conditions determine what is expected of the fetus’ postnatal eating environment. If the fetus experienced a nutritionally-poor maternal diet, the result will be a lifelong negative effect on her/his metabolism. Therefore, “the first preventative step in (childhood obesity) should be done by correcting nutritional errors during pregnancy.”
Also, in the third trimester the number of fat cells increases in the fetus. Excessive caloric intake can stimulate an overproduction of fat cells within the fetus during this time. Overeating by the mother can lead to higher transfer of nutrients to the fetus through the placenta. This can lead to permanent changes in appetite and energy metabolism later in life.
Finally, a hyperglycemic diet of the fetus is a risk condition for adult obesity. In the third trimester of pregnancy, it’s very important to consume a balanced diet that does not included excessive calories or added sugars.²
This is just another reason to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables not only provide beneficial compounds (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) to the fetus for optimal growth, but they also help the mother to maintain a healthy weight!
Fruits and veggies promote a healthy weight for many reasons …
- Low in Calories. Most fruits and vegetables are low in calories compared to the same volume of other foods.
- Help You Feel Full. Fruits and veggies have a high water and fiber content, which help you feel full and may help to delay feelings of hunger between eating occasions.
- Help You Eat Less. Eating raw or crisply-steamed cooked vegetables requires more chewing, which may slow the pace of eating, helping to decrease intake at a meal.
- Replace ‘Bad’ Foods. Fruits and vegetables replace foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Remember, eating habits your kids learn now … stick!
¹ Ruager-Martin, R., M.J. Hyde, N. Modi. “Maternal Obesity and Infant Outcomes.” Early Human Development (2010): doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2010.08.007.
² Tabacchi, G., S. Giammanco, M.L. Guardia, et al. “A Review of the Literature of a New Classification of the Early Determinants of Childhood Obesity: From Pregnancy to the First Years of Life.” Nutrition Research (2007): 27: 587-604.