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Maternal health could affect child obesity

A recent study has revealed that the health of a pregnant woman could affect her unborn child, dictating whether it will become overweight or obese later on in life.

The research, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted by scientists at the University of Southampton from the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit.

The study featured 991 children taking part from conception onwards, with the scientists studying five ‘risk factors’ of early life. Four of those factors were during pregnancy; low vitamin D levels, smoking, obesity, and excess weight gained during pregnancy. The other risk was a baby being breast fed for less than one month.

A child who had been exposed to four or five of the risk factors was 3.99 times more likely to be obese or overweight than those who had been exposed to no risk factors, while their fat mass was 19% higher than the other group.

As the children got older, the risk to their health increased, meaning that they were 4.65 times more likely to be overweight or obese by the age of six. However, the researchers could not explain the differences with other factors, like a variation in diet or levels of physical activity.

Although a mother’s health may affect a child’s weight, schools are still trying to encourage a more nutritious diet, often with the introduction of healthy tuckshop foods. Tyne and Wear schools are also introducing healthier school meals and more physical exercise.

Posted by Mark
February 11, 2015

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