Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Do Fat Kids Come From Fat Moms?

Growing number of obese or fat kids have been worrying many health experts as overweight would place these kids at higher risk of getting other medical complications like diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), or even heart disease.

A recent study had found that women who are overweight during their pregnancy tend to deliver overweight children. The report was published by the researchers from Britain's University of Bristol in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine during March 2008.

The study looked at the developmental “Overnutrition Hypothesis”. It is the idea that if a woman were overweight during pregnancy, the higher levels of sugar and fatty acids in her blood would affect the developing fetus, dooming or at least predisposing the child to poor appetite control and a slower metabolism. The children of these women would then be expected to become more obese themselves.

4,091 mothers, their children born in 1991-1992 and the fathers of these children were involved in the study. The researchers studied the DNA of everyone, height, weight and body mass index (an important measurement of obesity), smoking, education and other factors.

What they found was that if a child became overweight by age of 9 or 11, then the mother was more likely to be overweight or obese mother than was the father. FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene was quoted to be responsible for such link. FTO has been shown to predispose people to Type-2 diabetes if they are overweight. The researchers also found that people with certain variants of FTO are more likely to become overweight, and inheritance from the mother seemed to have a stronger effect.

Nevertheless, how FTO could result in increased BMI (body mass index) is not known at current stage. As such, the researchers cannot rule out the fact that such link was due to dietary and physical activity behaviors.

The researchers did conclude that fat pregnant women are probably not responsible for the obesity epidemic by programming their children to get fat as they get older. Mothers are somehow involved in other ways but the link is still unclear. The study was unable to disprove the “Overnutrition hypothesis”.

A copy of the previously mentioned report is available online at the following link:

Exploring the Developmental Overnutrition Hypothesis Using Parental–Offspring Associations and FTO as an Instrumental Variable

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