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Mother's Lifestyle Habits May Influence Risk Of Obesity In Children

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Researchers found that children whose mothers observe healthy habits have lower risk for obesity. What are the lifestyle habits in women that are strongly associated with obesity in children?  ( Luis Silva )

A mother’s lifestyle habits may contribute to her children’s risk of becoming obese, findings of a new study published in the British Medical Journal has revealed.

Healthy Habits

Findings of the study have shown that children whose mothers eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, maintain healthy body weight, drink alcohol in moderation, and do not smoke are less likely to become obese.

Researchers found that children of mothers who follow these healthy habits are 75 percent less likely to have weight problems compared with children who do not observe any of these habits.

The research also found that when both the mother and child adhere to these five healthy habits, the risk of obesity was 82 percent lower than in mother and children who did not have these habits.

Study researcher Qi Sun, from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues looked at the data of 24,289 children born to 16,945 women. During the five-year follow-up period, 1,282 of the children, or 5.3 percent of them, became obese.

Mother’s Lifestyle Habits Have A Strong Link To Obesity In Children

Researchers found that maternal obesity, physical inactivity, and smoking had a strong link to obesity in children and adolescents. The researchers also found that the greatest drop in obesity risk is in mothers and children with healthy lifestyle habits.

The children of mothers who maintained a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9 had 56 percent reduced risk of obesity than children whose mothers did not maintain a healthy weight. Those whose mothers did not smoke also had a 31 percent reduced risk of obesity compared with children of women who smoked.

Sun and colleagues also found that there was a lower incidence of obesity in children whose mothers consumed a low or moderate amount of alcohol than children of teetotaler mothers. Since a few of the mothers in the study were considered as heavy drinkers, the researchers were not able to determine a link between heavy alcohol use and obesity in children.

The researchers likewise found that the mother’s dietary patterns were not linked to obesity in children possibly because there are many factors that influence children’s diets such as school lunches and the available food in the neighborhood.

“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,” Sun and colleagues wrote in their study.

“These findings highlight the potential benefits of implementing family or parental based multifactorial interventions to curb the risk of childhood obesity.”

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