Mother's lifestyle choices linked to obesity risk in teenagers

Child obesity mother linked

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Parents who want their kids to have healthier lifestyles might want to start practicing what they preach.

The five habits are: eating a healthy diet; exercising regularly; maintaining a healthy body weight; not smoking; and drinking alcohol in moderation.

The best thing mothers can do to ensure their kids avoid developing obesity may be to take care of themselves.

The prevalence of obesity in New Zealand had already trebled to 30 per cent between 1977 and 2013, making it the third most obese nation. Almost 20% of kids and teens aged 6 to 19 now qualify as obese.

Obesity was a risk factor for many common health conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and cancer which contributed the loss of quality of life, early death and higher healthcare expenditure, the report said.

Previously, a 2017 worldwide study found that child obesity could be 35 to 40 per cent inherited from parents.

For this study, researchers focused on the association between a mother's lifestyle and the risk of obesity among their children and adolescents between 9 and 18 years of age.

It turns out the lifestyle of mothers is significantly connected to whether or not children become obese, as determined by body mass index (BMI), a measurement of height and weight.

When both children and mothers followed a healthy lifestyle, there was a 82% reduced risk of their offspring being obese. But the degree to which these behaviors made a difference may still be surprising.

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The researchers were surprised to note that a mother's dietary patterns, in isolation, had no link to her children's obesity risk - possibly, they speculated, because a kid's diet is also heavily influenced by what they eat at school and away from home. Good diet and regular exercising are among them. Finally, they drink light to moderate amounts, quantified as two small glasses of wine or one standard pint of beer a day.

They examined medical history and lifestyle characteristics of 24,289 children aged 9-14 years who were born to 16,945 women in two United States studies, the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) and Growing Up Today Study (GUTS).

"While the study's outcome might seem obvious, it's significant because childhood obesity is a growing problem in Australia and around the world - and that it indicates modifiable lifestyle and diet factors are to blame rather than genetics (or, to quote the paper, "'nurture" carries more weight than "nature' in driving the current pandemic of obesity"). It also relied on self-reported data about mums' habits, and self-reported data is notoriously unreliable - though the researchers nevertheless emphasised the importance of mothers in preventing children from becoming obese.

Identifying risk factors for the prevention of childhood obesity has become a public health priority. During a 5-year follow-up period, about 5.3% of the children developed obesity.

Still, there are a lot of other questions to answer.

The study found out that mothers who engaged in 150-299 minutes per week in exercises of either moderate or vigorous intensity were less likely to have obese kids than mothers who did not perform any exercise. Data from a wider swath of the U.S. population would be helpful.

Indiscriminate alcohol consumption is bad for overall health.

We also need studies that show how paternal lifestyle might impact kids, the authors write in the study.

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