Does an obese pregnancy lead to an obese child?
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Several studies in a recent New York Times article entitled "Honey, I Plumped the Kids" seem to be pointing in that direction. As we all know by now, human beings are getting bigger--and by bigger, I really mean fatter. In 2005 it was estimated there were 400 million obese people on the planet. Yes, 400 MILLION. And, in what is a recent phenomenon, some of those obese people happened to be women who then became pregnant and gave birth. The result? Well, if the studies are to be believed, a pregnancy for an obese woman can lead to her children being obese as well.
Similar news to this has been circulating for some time now. It's also no news that being obese, whether or not you're pregnant, can have dramatically harmful results. Cancer, diabetes and heart disease are just a few of the pleasantries headed your way if you happen to be obese. But, what does being obese mean for your unborn child? In one of the studies cited in the Times article, women who gave birth to children before they had surgery to correct their obesity were more likely have an obese child; once the women had the surgery, the children they later bore tended to not be obese. Hence, the obesity doesn't on the surface seem to be due to genetic predisposition, but rather to the mother being , well, fat.
One theory as to why this is concerns the fact that people have access to an overabundance of sugar and fat. As a direct result, so do their fetuses. In another study pregnant female rats were allowed to have as much as they wanted of either human junk food or regular old rat food. Those who had access to the junk food ate 40% more food than their rat-chow eating buddies. The baby rats born to the junk food rats were more inclined to eat such food and were more likely to be overweight as a result of consuming too many calories.
So what does this mean for all us preggies out there? Perhaps that we should listen to our doctors and cut back on the sugar and fats. Pregnancy cravings aside, the article and the studies make a good case for being even more healthy when you're pregnant--for you and your baby.
Pic by armchairgeek.