You may think that obesity problems are due to over-eating, lack of exercise and Americans becoming more lethargic and depressed. But the real reason may start long before people have an opportunity to eat too much of the wrong foods and avoid going to the gym.
Now evidence is mounting that shows the problem may actually start in utero, when women gain more weight than is needed to develop a healthy full size baby. Recent findings indicate that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can result in bigger than average babies who are prenatally programmed to become overweight children and run the risk of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
This latest study controlled for the effects of genetics by studying more than half a million women and studying consecutive pregnancies. There was a consistent association between the amount of weight a woman gained and the birth weight of her baby. Looking at the pregnant woman’s weight gain and the birth weight of her babies in successive pregnancies that occurred within a few years of each other most likely involved the same father and therefore ruled out the effects of genetics. Women that gained more than 53 pounds during a pregnancy with one baby were more than twice as likely to have babies who weighed 9 pounds or more at birth verses women who gained only 18-22 pounds.
What was also found in the study was that a woman’s weight BEFORE pregnancy was even more important in predicting risks for the baby than excessive weight gain during pregnancy.
Unfortunately there are alot more high birth weight babies being born which has to do with the increase in overall weight gain in the population. If we really want to improve the health care of our children, women need to get pre-conception counseling and have a healthy weight prior to getting pregnant. It makes sense to provide the best environment for your baby to grow and thrive.
Reference: Ludwig DS and Currie J. The Association Between Pregnancy Weight Gain and Birth Weight: A Within Family Comparison. Lancet 2010 Aug 5.