A new study has found that a mother’s weight during pregnancy does not have a long-term impact on the future weight of the unborn child.
It was previously thought that children born to obese mothers ended up becoming fat in childhood and during their adolescent years.
But the researchers found that a high maternal Body Mass Index (BMI) during pregnancy was unlikely to cause weight issues for children later on in life.
Even though research has shown that children of obese mothers are usually born big, it was unclear whether this association continued through childhood and during adolescence.
This new study published in the PLOS Medicine journal is the first to show that past the infancy stages, these children are highly unlikely to continue being fat.
Instead, the researchers state that overweight or obesity cases in later stages of life are as a result of genes transferred from the mother to the child, and not because the mother was fat during pregnancy.
This thus means that babies who acquire the “fatness” genes are at a high risk of becoming overweight as they grow older, even if their mothers had a normal healthy weight during pregnancy.
Therefore, the authors note that public health interventions aimed at curbing the obesity epidemic should encompass all family members at different stages of life instead of just targeting pregnant mothers who are considered overweight or obese.
Since it is difficult to determine whether someone has genes associated with being fat, health experts recommend that children adopt healthy eating habits and active routines to minimise their chances of developing obesity.