Experts are urging for strategies to be introduced to prevent girls and young women becoming obese due to the damaging effects it can have on their health and the livelihood of their babies should they fall pregnant.
Scientists involved in a long-running major European study have found that children of obese mothers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, have a stroke or develop heart disease.
The research – collected from 13,000 people born in the 1930s and 40s – also shows that mood disorders in adulthood are common in children of obese mothers.
Interestingly, weight gain during pregnancy can have a similar effect on the long-term health of babies, while weight gain in mothers between pregnancies can play a part.
Lead researcher, Dr Patricia Iozzo – of the Institute of Clinical Physiology at Italy’s National Research Council – said:
“The period of pregnancy – even the very last period – is fundamental. Intensive efforts should be devoted to monitor lifestyle during pregnancy and optimise the mother’s metabolic profile at delivery.”
Very recently a study conducted at the University of Edinburgh highlighted concern that the ‘eat for two’ philosophy during pregnancy is unrealistic and unhealthy – particularly for the baby.
University researchers discovered that the placenta of mothers eating a high-fat diet low in nutrients provided weakened protection to the foetus against the stress hormone, cortisol.
The result of this is reduced foetal growth and the likelihood that the baby will suffer mood disorders in adulthood.
In light of these major studies, Louise Silverton – director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives – stressed that action needs to be taken to provide extra support to mothers during and after pregnancy to help them stick to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
“After birth, women need support to develop healthy patterns of eating and exercise for themselves and their family. For women who are overweight or obese they need support and signposting to access weight-loss services to ensure that they are an ideal weight before they embark on their next pregnancy.”