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Study finds lifestyle affects child's BMI more than their mother's weight

ANI | Updated: Feb 05, 2022 15:31 IST


Bristol [UK], February 5 (ANI): A team of researchers have found that an increased Body Mass Index of a mother before and during pregnancy is not a major cause of high BMI in their offspring -- indicating that obesity is more likely to be a result of lifestyle factors.
The study has been published in the 'BMC Medicine Journal'.
It is known that greater maternal BMI before or during pregnancy is associated with a higher BMI in children, however, the extent to which the mother's weight causes obesity in childhood, or whether this is caused by environmental and lifestyle factors post conception and birth is unclear.

The research team from the University of Bristol used a method called Mendelian randomisation, which measures variation in genes to determine the effect of an exposure on an outcome. They looked at birthweight and BMI at age 1 and 4 years in both Children of the 90s and Born in Bradford participants, and then also BMI at age 10 and 15 years in just the Children of the 90s participants.
They found that there was a moderate causal effect between maternal BMI and the birth weight of children, however in most older age groups they did not find a strong causal effect.
Lead author Dr Tom Bond, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol explained, "We found that if women are heavier at the start of pregnancy this isn't a strong cause of their children being heavier as teenagers. This is important to know. Supporting women and men at all ages to keep a healthy weight will be needed to prevent obesity. It isn't enough to just focus on women entering pregnancy. Despite this, there is good evidence that maternal obesity causes other health problems for mothers and babies (aside from offspring obesity)."
"So prospective mothers should still be encouraged and supported to maintain a healthy weight. It will be important to broaden this work to investigate other characteristics of mothers and fathers during pregnancy and a child's early life that might affect children's weight, and also to look at the offspring when they are in adulthood and are old enough to begin showing early signs of heart disease risk," Dr Bond concluded. (ANI)

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