Childhood obesity linked to maternal unhealthy lifestyle before pregnancy

Younger schoolchildren are more likely to be overweight if their mothers had a poor diet and smoked during and before pregnancy.

Childhood obesity is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle of the mother before pregnancy 20406

Scientists from the University of Southampton (UK) conducted a study and proved that supporting a healthy diet and generally healthy lifestyle in women before pregnancy can reduce the risk of obesity in their future children.

More and more children around the world are becoming obese. Thus, in the UK, almost a quarter of children under the age of five are overweight. At the same time, by school the number of fat children is still increasing.

As adults, these children are more likely to be overweight and have other long-term health problems. And an important factor that influences this is an unhealthy diet.

A new study, which was led by Sarah Crozier, associate professor of statistical epidemiology at the University of Southampton (UK), shows that children aged 8-9 years are more likely to are more likely to be obese if their mother did not eat well during and before pregnancy. The researcher calls this a critical time when initiatives to reduce childhood obesity may be more effective.

Women joined the study before pregnancy, when they first thought about having a baby. Sarah Crozier analyzed dietary data from 2,963 mother-child pairs based on the women's responses. They were asked about their diet before pregnancy, at 11 and 34 weeks of pregnancy. It was important for scientists to find out what already born children ate at six months, one year, three years, six-seven years and eight-nine years.

Based on this information, each mother and child was assigned a composite diet quality score, PAIR. The couples were then divided into five groups: poor, poor-average, average, average-best, and best.

Mothers with poorer education, smokers, and a higher body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy tended to be in the poorer diet quality group, the study found. Their children had a higher percentage of body fat and a higher body mass index.

Research shows the importance of monitoring nutrition at the earliest possible stage of a child's life – during pregnancy or even before conception.

Also a few days ago, a study by Australian scientists from Monash University was published, which generally confirms the conclusions of English scientists. Findings from this systematic review also show the importance of maternal health behavior programs during pregnancy for the health of unborn children.