Health Risks of Obesity Could Impact Grandkids

grandmotherMost of the research about the inheritability of obesity and its effects has been concentrated on mothers and their children; however the findings of a recent study indicate that many of the health issues associated with obesity may actually skip a generation. Obese mothers may pass health risks on to their grandchildren. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh conducted a study that indicated that moderately obese mothers (Body Mass Index between 30 and 34.9) can have an impact on both the birth weight and diabetes risk of their grandchildren, even if no ill effects are observed in their own children.

The study used obese female mice, which were given a high-fat/high-sugar diet both before and during pregnancy. The mice were found to pass on the risks of obesity to the second generation of offspring, while the first generation was spared.  It’s not yet known why the first generation of offspring is protected, but the researchers believe that differences in maternal weight gain during pregnancy or specific food eaten during pregnancy could play a role. “Given the worldwide increase in obesity, it is vital that we gain an understanding of how future generations may be affected. Future studies could look at these trends in humans but they would need to take into account genetics, environmental, social and cultural factors,” concluded Dr. Amanda Drake, Senior Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

While this study suggests that the ill effects of obesity extend to a second generation, there have been ample studies showing that a mother’s obesity during pregnancy can impact the health of her own child as well.  In a recent article, Dr. Alana Chock, bariatric surgeon in Washington State, explained that “Maternal obesity increases the risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, fetal loss and surgical delivery–which is something most women are not aware of until they are already pregnant.” Another study published in Fetal and Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease of Childhood found that the first signs of heart disease can be observed in the newborns of obese mother. While the study was fairly small, it adds to the growing evidence of how obesity during pregnancy can negatively impact offspring .

You can read more about obesity and pregnancy here.

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