Mom's healthy lifestyle lowers child's risk of obesity

07 July, 2018, 21:28 | Author: Kara Nash
  • Nearly half of all New Zealanders will be obese within 20 years if current trends continue

They wrote: "Our study indicates that adherence to a healthy lifestyle in mothers during their offspring's childhood and adolescence is associated with a substantially reduced risk of obesity in the children". Now one in five children aged between six to 19 years old are obese.

Dr. Sun's team used information from the Nurses' Health Study II and Growing Up Today Study to clarify the association between the mother's lifestyle during her offspring's childhood and adolescence and their risk of obesity between the ages of 9 and 18 years. Smoking status played a big role too, with non-smokers children 31% less likely to become obese.

The researchers found that 1,282 of the children, or 5.3%, developed obesity during a median five-year follow-up period.

"In my view, the most important thing for mothers to do, to impact the risk of obesity in their child, is to reduce their own stress levels - and that's not that easy to do", Lustig said.

They examined medical history and lifestyle characteristics of 24,289 children aged 9-14 years who were born to 16,945 women in two U.S. studies, the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) and Growing Up Today Study (GUTS).

Participants completed detailed questionnaires about their medical history and lifestyle, including body mass index (BMI), physical activity levels and diet.

It has led the researchers, Dr Ross Wilson and Professor Haxby Abbott from the University of Otago's Centre for Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research at the Dunedin School of Medicine to call for public health policy measures to address the situation. In 20 years the average BMI of the Pasifika population was expected to exceed the general population by 7.1-8.1 - up from a difference of 6.4 in 2015. Below 18.5 is in the underweight range, between 25 and 29.9 is in the overweight range, and between 30 and 39.9 is in the obese range.


"There are many risk factors that can be modifiable".

Greater availability of high energy, low nutrient food, as well as a drop in physical activity, had all contributed to the rise in obesity, he said. A 2017 study lead by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found dads who were more involved in raising their children lowered their risk for obesity.

Children of mothers who followed five healthy lifestyle choices were a full 75% less likely to be obese.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, and the researchers outline some study limitations.

"Our study was the first to demonstrate that an overall healthy lifestyle really outweighs any individual healthy lifestyle factors followed by mothers when it comes to lowering the risk of obesity in their children", said study senior author Qi Sun.

These findings highlight the potential benefits of implementing parent based interventions to curb the risk of childhood obesity, they say.

The study found out that mothers who engaged in 150-299 minutes per week in exercises of either moderate or vigorous intensity were less likely to have obese kids than mothers who did not perform any exercise.

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