Unhealthy diet before pregnancy linked to childhood obesity risk

According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, refraining from an unhealthy diet before pregnancy may reduce the risk of obesity for children.

As conducted by the University of Southampton, the authors described three primary objectives with their research: “define latent classes of mother-offspring diet quality trajectories from pre-pregnancy to child age 8–9 years; identify early life factors associated with these trajectories; and describe the association between the trajectories and childhood adiposity outcomes.”

The conclusions drawn were part of an analysis of data involving close to 3,000 mother-child pairs. The adult female participants were asked to complete questionnaires on both their diet and that of their child, including the dietary habits before and during pregnancy.

“Mothers who were younger, had attained fewer academic qualifications, smoked and had a higher body mass index (BMI) before pregnancy tended to be in a worse diet group with their child,” researchers determined.

“When the children were eight to nine years old, the researchers assessed the amount of fat tissue in their bodies using a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan. They also calculated the child’s BMI, adjusting this to account for their age and sex.”

The findings indicate that childhood obesity is a crucial health issue that should be addressed at the earliest possible stages of a child’s life to avoid long-lasting consequences.

“Mother-offspring dietary trajectories are stable across early life, with poorer diet quality associated with maternal socio-demographic and other factors and childhood adiposity. The preconception period may be an important window to promote positive maternal dietary changes in order to improve childhood outcomes,” the authors concluded in their findings.

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