If only this were an April Fool joke — but sadly, the phenomenon discussed here is all too serious. An overwhelming pile of evidence says that obese women tend to produce obese children. In 2016, more than two-thirds of America’s reproductive-age women were overweight or obese — a statistic that can only have worsened since then.
Researchers reported that a high-fat, high-sugar diet, fed to a pre-pregnant and pregnant mouse, can affect the lives of not only her pups, but the “grand-pups, and great-grand pups.” Even when those descendants are given healthful rodent chow, they tend to develop insulin resistance and related abnormalities of the metabolic system, that make them susceptible to diabetes and obesity. According to MedicalDaily.com,
[T]he mother’s mitochondrial DNA, which is responsible for converting food into energy, becomes defective in the unfertilized egg as a result of poor diet choices. Because mitochondria has its own set of genes that are inherited only from the mother and not the father, researchers conclude that the defect is passed on exclusively from the mother’s bloodline.
Within weeks, Genome Medicine published a study of pregnant women’s eating habits that revealed more about how the process of converting food to energy can be corrupted:
Women who ate more fat on a regular basis significantly decreased the babies’ levels of Bacteroides in the gut — a key species of bacteria that’s designed to break down and extract energy from carbohydrates.
[R]esearchers… sequenced the DNA of the infants’ bacterial community and found it confirmed the mothers’ diets were a prediction of how their babies’ guts would poorly process carbohydrates in the long run.
The following year, JAMA Pediatrics published a study showing that…
[…] obesity during pregnancy places women at a higher risk of having an infant with macrosomia, a condition characterized by atypically large body size at birth…
Obese women tend to have fetuses with not only bigger bodies, but bigger heads, which could be an “ouch” situation from the mothers’ perspective.
Head size does not predict intelligence
By now, the public is well aware that exposure to lead in early childhood can have dire consequences. Not long ago, a UT Austin research team found that being born to an obese mother can have the same IQ-lowering effect, at least in boys. Before that problem even has a chance to become evident, a precursor effect shows up when boys are very young, with markedly lagging motor skills development.
Assistant professor of nutritional sciences Elizabeth Widen told a reporter that dietary and behavioral differences may be responsible, or fetal development could be influenced by events that “tend to happen in the bodies of people with too much extra weight, such as inflammation, metabolic stress, hormonal disruptions and high amounts of insulin and glucose.”
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Obese Pregnant Women With Poor Diets May Worsen The Childhood Obesity Epidemic: Study,” MedicalDaily.com, 06/16/16
Source: “Eating A High-Fat Diet When Pregnant Could Hurt Your Baby’s Gut Health,” MedicalDaily.com, 08/08/16
Source: “Fetuses of obese mothers have higher weight, larger head circumferences and some longer bones, according to a new study,” MDMag.com, November 2017
Source: “Obesity in pregnant moms linked to lag in their sons’ development and IQ,” NeuroscienceNews.com, 12/20/19
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