Two Ways a Mother Can Protect Her Child from a Life of Obesity

Before and after birth fat baby prevention tips

A new study points out two ways a mother can protect her child from a life of obesity by taking the appropriate action early in pregnancy and shortly afterward.

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Recently, attention is being paid toward how to prevent obesity from happening in the first place rather than dwelling on how to cure it. It makes sense. Losing weight is very difficult, whereas keeping it off may prove to be easier.

This was the message in a news release from a recent Kaiser Permanente study that was published in the journal Pediatric Obesity. The study points out that not only is there an increase in adult obesity, but that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the past 30 years, obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents, with more than one-third of children and adolescents found to be overweight or obese in 2012. Hence, a real need for focusing on nipping obesity in the bud as early as possible in a young life.

While it has been previously reported that there is an association between maternal weight gain during pregnancy with an increased risk of an infant becoming obese, the Kaiser Permanente study examined the interplay among four factors associated with childhood obesity:

• Pre-pregnancy obesity
• Gestational weight gain
• Gestational diabetes
• Breastfeeding

According to the news release, what the researchers found was that pre-pregnancy obesity and excessive weight gain during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of the child becoming overweight at age 2. Furthermore, that breastfeeding for at least six months helped reduce the likelihood of a child being overweight at age 2.

“Childhood obesity is linked with adult obesity and long-term negative health outcomes, which is why it is important to explore which factors may contribute to excessive weight during early childhood,” explained the study’s lead author, Anny H. Xiang, PhD, of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation. “Our study findings highlight the need for more public health efforts to reduce maternal obesity, appropriate gestational weight gain and to promote breastfeeding.”

So, just how overweight is too overweight while pregnant? The researchers found that:

• Having a BMI of 30.0 or higher prior to getting pregnant increased the odds of her child being overweight at age 2 by more than two-fold compared to women who had a normal pre-pregnancy weight BMI between 18.5 and 25.

• Having a BMI between 25.0 and 29.9 prior to pregnancy was associated with 50 percent increased odds of her child being overweight at age 2.

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• Excessive weight gain during a pregnancy is associated with 23 percent increased odds of a child being overweight at age 2 compared to women who had healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

Basically this roughly translates into too much weight gain when a normal-weight woman gains more than 35 pounds, an overweight woman gains more than 25 pounds, and an obese woman gains more than 20 pounds during a pregnancy.

One of the other cruxes of excessive weight gain during pregnancy is that obese women are less likely to lose that weight gained during pregnancy.

While the study finds that the two ways a mother can protect her child from a life of obesity is by managing her weight during pregnancy and breast feeding her child for the first 6 months after birth, here are some selected articles that may also help keep your baby at a healthy weight:

Here’s the Best Way to Predict if Your Baby Will Become Obese

4 Bad Feeding Habits Make Bottle-fed Babies Obese

Hidden Sugars May be Making Your Child (and you) Fat

References:

Kaiser Permanente news release “Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Pre-Pregnancy Obesity Increases Odds of Having Overweight Children

Maternal obesity, gestational diabetes, breastfeeding and childhood overweight at age 2 yearsPediatric Obesity, article first published online: 8 Mar. 2016, doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12125; Bider-Canfield, Z. et al.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

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