Studies world over abound reiterating the role of healthy lifestyle factors in individuals for reducing the risk of obesity. However, studies evaluating the link between maternal habits with the health of their offspring few and far between but could lay bare some exciting observations. This is what motivated researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, to assess the impact of several habits of mothers on the health of their children and adolescents compared the results with those whose mothers didn’t follow these. In particular, the study focused on five habits—a healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate body mass index (BMI), consumption of alcohol in moderation, and being non-smoker—and found that mothers who follow these had children who have 75 percent less probability of becoming obese than in counterparts whose mothers didn’t. Surprisingly, the dietary patterns of mothers didn’t have any noticeable bearing on the health of their children.
Maternal Habits Role in Obesity Prevalence no less Significant than Individual Lifestyle Factors
Obesity in children in several developed nations, notably the U.S., bring several other co-morbid factors such as upping the risk for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. While genetic factors have played a role in these, the increased prevalence in recent years has been attributed largely to individual lifestyle factors. However, this study posits the role of maternal habits on the health of their children.
As many as 24,289 children were enrolled in the collaborative research project Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) who were born to 16,945 women who participated in a series of prospective cohort studies the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS). The study threw some exciting insights for researchers. They found that 5.3% of the children became obese when the respondents were made to go through five-year follow-up period. The incidence was strongly linked to the habits of their mothers who were themselves overweight, indulged in smoking, and had inadequate level of physical activity. Proportionately, the risk of obesity reduced dramatically when both mothers and children followed healthy lifestyles.
Study shed Light on Family-based Intervention Steps for reducing Obesity Risk in Children
The study found that women with BMI in the range 18.5 – 24.9 had children with 56% lower risk of obesity with children of women who were overweight. Similar effects were noticed across the other factors.
The study will pave way for devising family- or parent-based intervention strategies for the management of obesity risk in children, opine the investigators.