Overweight moms really can’t catch a break lately. First came a bunch of stories tying excessive weight to pregnancy and birth risks. Then the UK came down hard, recommending aggressive diet and exercise to get moms to lose weight between pregnancies. And now, a new study finds that women who are overweight when they get pregnant are more likely to have overweight children.
My first thought on reading this: How do they know whether this is a result of nature or nurture?
It seems like they don’t, actually. What this study is showing is that women who have weight problems have kids who have weight problems. It’s not showing why. The propensity for overweight also correlates with economic factors (less money=more likelihood of obesity). We’ve known this for awhile. What’s new here is the direct connection between a mothers’ weight and her children’s. There is no evidence about whether this is genetic information passed on from mother to child or a result of the diet the child is eating.
Though it seems pretty likely that lifestyle factors are playing a major role here, we are learning more and more about the influence of genes on weight. So it might be that there’s some information learned by the fetus during pregnancy that affects body shape and size. In any case, a balanced diet and regular, moderate exercise before, during and after pregnancy are good ways to encourage a healthy body weight (for mothers and kids alike).
photo: -Paul H-/flickr