Why To Exercise (And Eat Right) Today: So Your Kids Won't Suffer

This article is more than 8 years old.

Children of obese moms beware: your lives may be cut short by heart disease, or other bad health outcomes.

That's the conclusion of a recent study (observational, but still) published in the BMJ that found an association between women who were obese during pregnancy and their offsprings' increased risk of premature death in general, and "cardiovascular events" in particular.

From the paper:

With the rising rates of excess weight among pregnant women, our findings of an association between maternal overweight and obesity and premature death in the adult offspring is a major public health concern. The offspring of mothers with increased BMI also experienced significantly more hospital admissions from all cardiovascular events combined...Our results suggest that the intrauterine environment has a crucial and long lasting effect on risk of premature mortality in offspring.

(lunar caustic/flickr)
(lunar caustic/flickr)

You knew this, but more and more evidence is emerging that subtle shifts in the environment inside a pregnant women's womb can have an enormous impact on your child's future health.

From the BMJ editorial accompanying the study by Pam Factor-Litvak, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, which asserts that interventions to combat obesity must begin well before pregnancy, here's a bit about why womb conditions matter:

As with maternal undernutrition, maternal overnutrition and obesity are associated with definite changes in the intrauterine milieu, such as increased circulating cytokines, glucose concentrations, and lipids, as well as increased insulin resistance—all of which may lead to an increased supply of nutrients to the developing fetus. Among the mechanisms of fetal adaptation to overnutrition are epigenetic changes in response to increased fetal exposure to glucose, lipids, and inflammatory cytokines. Thus, offspring may experience permanent or transient changes in metabolic programming, leading to inappropriate appetite regulation and behavioral problems associated with obesity in adult life.

So if you're pregnant, or better yet, if you're thinking about getting pregnant, start exploiting your stores of maternal guilt and get fit — for yourself and you child's future well-being.

This program aired on August 20, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 




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