Improving health before pregnancy could prevent childhood obesity

2 February 2015

Improving the health of expectant mothers could be key when it comes to reducing the levels of childhood obesity, a new study has suggested.

Researchers at the University of Southampton's Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit examined five 'risk factors'.

The study supports growing evidence that a child's early environment before and soon after birth is associated with whether they are obese later in life. Earlier research had identified a number of 'risk factors' but this latest study is the first to suggest that having a high number of them can act as a strong predictor of being overweight or obese in childhood. 

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the research focused on five early life obesity risk factors: a short duration of breastfeeding (less than one month) and four maternal factors during pregnancy - obesity, excess pregnancy weight gain, smoking, and low vitamin D status.

The team found that children with four or five of these risk factors were 3.99 times more likely to be overweight or obese at the age of four, with a 19 per cent higher fat mass than children who had experienced no risk factors.

Posted by Edward Bartel

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