One of the few good things about pregnancy, other than the part where you get a baby at the end, is supposed to be that you can eat whatever you want. Go ahead and reach for that brownie! You’re eating for two. And pregnant women are supposed to gain weight.
Not anymore. In addition to the endless carping about how women risk permanent weight gain if they pack on the pounds during pregnancy, a new study shows that a mom’s prenatal diet can put her future child at risk for obesity.
The British study appears to show that eating large amounts of carbohydrates during pregnancy creates small changes in the fetus’ DNA. The researchers in turn were able to show that kids with these DNA markers were more prone to obesity. The research team said this strengthens the case for all women of childbearing age to receive nutritional education and “lifestyle support” for the sake of the future generation. I am not even joking. Here it is in their own words:
Professor Mark Hanson, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study provides compelling evidence that epigenetic changes, at least in part, explain the link between a poor start to life and later disease risk.
“It strengthens the case for all women of reproductive age having greater access to nutritional, education and lifestyle support to improve the health of the next generation, and to reduce the risk of the conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, which often follow obesity.”
Great. This is just what pregnant women need: one more reason for strangers to police what we do with our bodies. Will we get to the point where bakers join bartenders in refusing to serve mamas-to-be?
Yes, a healthy diet during pregnancy is important. But I couldn’t read this article without a healthy shudder at the closing comments, which seem to view all women’s bodies as potential babymaking machines in which the public has a vested interest. Don’t just eat healthy because it’s good for you! Do it for the “future generation”! Please.
What do you think? Is this study good news for pregnant women, or one more excuse for nosy strangers to police what mamas do with their bodies?
Photo: Lars Plougmann