BETHESDA, MD -- The number of overweight and obese Americans continues to grow rapidly. Today, 50 percent of adults are overweight and up to 20 percent are obese. While the number of overweight/obese children is at an all time high, the steady increase of overweight infants -- individuals under 11 months old -- is alarming.
Research studies have found that pregnant women who are overweight/obese are more likely to give birth to heavier babies, and the risk of overweight children becoming obese adults is nearly nine times greater than for children who are not overweight. Studies also show that greater body-weight at birth and weight gain early in life increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese as an adult. Inheritance studies show that a child's body mass index (BMI) correlates more closely with the mother's BMI than with it's father's, suggesting that an interaction of both genetic and intrauterine influences, may contribute to later-life obesity risk in the offspring.
Armed with these and other data, a team of researchers from the USDA-Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center has examined whether the subtle effects of fetal exposure to the mother's obesity can have a latent effect on the offspring. In a new report, investigators studied whether fetal exposure to gestational obesity leads to a self-reinforcing viscious cycle of excessive weight gain and body fat which passes from mother to child. The results of the new study suggest they do.
The study is entitled, "Maternal Obesity at Conception Programs Obesity in the Offspring." It was conducted by the research team of Kartik Shankar, Amanda Harrell, Xiaoli Liu, Janet M. Gilchrist, Martin J.J. Ronis and Thomas M. Badger, all of the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center, Little Rock, AR. Their findings appear in the online edition of the American Journal of Physiology -- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology (doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00316.2007).
|Contact: Donna Krupa|
American Physiological Society