Eating for two can predict daughter’s future obesity

August 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Childrens Health

As a society we are increasingly overweight, and pregnant women are not immune. However, there is now evidence that the mother’s weight and the amount she gains during pregnancy can have a serious impact on her daughter’s risk of obesity decades later. Eating for two is not an option, and Alison Stuebe, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of North Carolina who carried out the study, analysed data on more than 24,000 mother-daughter pairs.

She found that the heavier a mother was before her pregnancy, then she was twice as likely to have a daughter who was obese as an adult. Daughters whose mothers gained 15 to 19 pounds during pregnancy had the lowest risk of obesity whereas daughters whose mothers gained more than 40 pounds were almost twice as likely to be obese at age 18 and later in life.

Obviously diet through childhood and eating patterns picked up in the family will have played their part, but she stressed that women should aim for a healthy weight before they get pregnant, and then gain only a moderate amount.

Update on teenagers

Do you remember in a recent article, (yet another ‘would you believe it’), I reported on the ‘news’ that teenagers who lounge about watching television and undertake very little physical activity probably developed the habit when they were younger? Well I have an update on those teenage couch potatoes, this time from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Apparently, the common practice of putting a TV in your teenager’s bedroom actually increases the amount of television they watch.

Would you believe it? Their study, to be published in the May issue of Pediatrics Journal, was of nearly 800 teenagers and revealed that twice as many 15-18 year-olds who had a TV in their bedrooms said they watched at least five hours of TV a day, compared with those who did not have a television in their bedroom at all. And they are more likely to have unsatisfactory eating and study habits – and a tendency to weight gain and hypertension.A previous study found that having a television in the bedroom is a stronger predictor of obesity than the amount of time spent actually watching it. Perhaps it beams out fat rays, even when switched off – wonder if Dr Who would be interested in that as a storyline?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents refrain from putting a television in a child’s room. But despite the recommendation, about two-thirds of children ages eight to 18 have a television in their bedroom, the study found, and good luck to any parent who tries to remove it is what I say.