Obesity is becoming epidemic worldwide. A new research revealed that a mother’s weight and the amount she gains during pregnancy both impact her daughter’s risk of obesity decades later.
Researchers conducted the study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. It was published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Alison Stuebe, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, says “The findings of this study are especially important because of the growing epidemic of obesity in women,” Stuebe says. “If we can help women reach a healthy weight before they start a family, we can make a difference for two generations.”
Researchers analyzed data on mothers’ recalled weights and weight gain for more than 24,000 mother-daughter pairs. The heavier a mother was before her pregnancy, the more likely her daughter was to be obese in later life.
For instance, an average-height mother who weighed 150 pounds before pregnancy was twice as likely to have a daughter who was obese at age 18 as a mother who weighed 125 pounds before pregnancy.
Weight gain during pregnancy mattered, too ? both too little and too much weight gain increased a daughter’s risk of becoming obese, especially if a mother was overweight before she got pregnant.
Daughters whose mothers gained 15 to 19 pounds during pregnancy had the lowest risk of obesity. Compared to this group, daughters whose mothers gained more than 40 pounds while pregnant were almost twice as likely to be obese at age 18 and later in life.
“Women should aim for a healthy weight before they get pregnant, and then gain a moderate amount,” Stuebe said.