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New Research on Children's Obesity Risk
Two new studies I saw this week peaked my interest. One study was in the June issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and showed that women who gained too much weight during pregnancy may increase their children's risk of becoming overweight or obese. The researchers looked at records of over 10,000 women and children and found that mothers who gained more than the current recommended amount of weight during their pregnancies were 48% more likely to have children that were overweight by the time they were 7 years old than other children.
Currently the Institute of Medicine recommends 25-35 pounds of weight gain for normal weight pregnant women and 15-25 pounds for women who were overweight upon getting pregnant. Women who are underweight can gain as much as 40 pounds.
The researchers speculate that when women gain too much weight while pregnant their blood sugar levels are higher than desired and the developing pancreatic cells of the fetus may be overstimulated, leading to higher birth weight and risk of diabetes later in life.
The other study I found interesting on a similar topic was in the Journal of Physiology, but this study was done on rats. The researchers found that when the rats were fed junk food while pregnant and nursing (don't ask me what "junk food" for rats is...probably similar to human junk food), their offspring were overweight, had high blood sugar, cholesterol, and decreased insulin sensitivity, signaling diabetes. The offspring also tend to prefer high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods because those are the flavors they were used to tasting. Since it would be unethical to feed junk food to pregnant women, we have to rely on rat studies for some of this kind of research.
Other studies show that the flavors of the foods eaten while pregnant and breastfeeding get into the milk. What better incentive to eat your vegetables? If you eat them while pregnant and nursing, your babies will already be familiar with the flavors and are much more likely to accept them later.
Ladies, let's use pregnancy as a time to get our bodies as healthy as possible and not as an excuse to eat junk! Your kids will thank you (OK..maybe not, but their health will be much better!).
Photo courtesy of dailymail.co.uk