FoodFacts.com takes enormous interest in the latest information released that may present us with new insights into the obesity crisis. What we’ve been able to determine from the wealth of new studies published in the last few years is that the obesity epidemic is complex and linking its origins to one or two different possible causes can’t even begin to bring us closer to solutions. There are a broad range of factors requiring a multi-faceted approach to reversing and preventing obesity in the future. Today we read new research information linking obesity to pregnancy weight gain.
Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are at higher risk of having overweight or obese children, according to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.
Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts, conducted a population-based cohort study of 42,133 women who had more than one singleton pregnancy and their 91,045 children.
The study involved matching records of all live births in Arkansas with state-mandated data on childhood body mass index (BMI) and height from public schools between 2003 and 2011.
The researchers wanted to determine whether childhood obesity is due to conditions during pregnancy, which can influence birthweight, or whether other shared mother and child factors, such as genes and diet, play a part.
The results of the study showed that on average, mothers gained around 14 kg in each pregnancy.
Researchers say that for every kilogram of weight a mother gains during pregnancy, at age 12 their child’s BMI will increase by 0.02 kg/m2.
Using a within-family design (testing associations within each family), the researchers found that for every kilogram of weight a mother gained during pregnancy, their child’s BMI would increase by 0.02 kg/m2 (8%) by age 12.
When the researchers adjusted the results for differences in birthweight, this increase in weight still remained significant.
Overall, variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a 0.43 kg/m2 difference in childhood BMI. By comparison, there has been an estimated 2 kg/m2 increase in the average BMI of children in the US since the 1970s.
The researchers note that although it would have been useful to include data of the mothers’ pre-pregnancy BMI in this study, this would have differentiated the results further since women with higher BMI tend to gain less weight during pregnancy.
Because childhood body weight predicts adult body weight, the study authors say their findings suggest that overnutrition in pregnancy may program the fetus for an increased lifetime risk for obesity, although the magnitude of this effect may be small.
FoodFacts.com once again wants to emphasize the importance of nutritional awareness for the entire population. Eating well during pregnancy is such an important part of taking care of a mother’s own nutritional needs. While weight gain is an essential part of a healthy pregnancy, excessive weight gain should be avoided – not just for the health of the expectant mother, but also for the health of the child as well.