A major European study reports that children of obese mothers are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Helsinki and the National Research Council, Pisa, Italy were involved.
The authors are now calling for urgent plans to prevent obesity in girls and young women, and that dieticians and psychologists should be accessible for pregnant women to protect their future child’s health.
Obesity studies
The University of Helsinki took data from over 13,000 people followed from birth in the 1930s and 1940s to the present. They assess that type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease are more likely in people born to overweight mothers.
A healthy diet was also highlighted by University of Edinburgh researchers, who found a diet rich in saturated fats and reduced vitamins and minerals is common in obese women during pregnancy.
This diet was found to weaken the placenta, protecting the foetus from cortisol, a stress hormone. Due to a reduction in foetal growth, this was observed to make the offspring more likely to experience mood disorders in adulthood.
Professors Rebecca Reynolds and Megan Holmes, University of Edinburgh, explained: “The two most important messages to pregnant women from these findings are that they should have a healthy diet and lifestyle during pregnancy.”
“After birth, women need support to develop healthy patterns of eating and exercise for themselves and their family,” added Louise Silverto, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives.
“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.”

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