Healthy Mothers Less Likely to Have Obese Children
Mothers who are a healthy weight, don't smoke, do regular exercise and drink alcohol in moderation are less likely to have children who are obese, a study has found.
Researchers from the US found five healthy habits in mothers that reduce the risk of childhood obesity by up to 75%.
Significant health issue
A quarter of children in England aged between two and 10 years old are classified as being obese.
Recent figures released by Public Health England showed that almost 60% more children in their last year of primary school are classified as ‘severely obese’ than in their first year.
Obesity in childhood is a significant health issue. It can affect a child’s physical and mental health, and there is more chance of them being overweight when they become adults. It can lead to high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, joint problems and breathing difficulties.
It is acknowledged that lifestyle factors contribute to the rising obesity rate, including a lack of physical activity, eating an unhealthy diet and spending too much time sitting down.
Previous studies have shown that children’s lifestyle choices are largely influenced by their mothers.
This recent study by researchers at Harvard University looked at the influence of mothers’ healthy habits on the risk of childhood obesity.
The researchers analysed data on 25,000 children aged nine to 14, following them up over five years.
The results showed that certain healthy habits in mothers were significantly linked to the risk of obesity in their children. Children of mothers who exercised for at least 150 minutes a week, drank alcohol in moderation, and ate lots of fruit and vegetables were 23% less likely to be obese.
This went up to 42% if the mothers didn’t smoke, and up to 75% if they had a healthy body mass index.
If the children also followed a healthy lifestyle, they were 82% less likely to be obese.
The findings highlight the potentially critical role of maternal lifestyle choices in childhood obesity.
One of the authors of the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, Qi Sun, said: “Our study was the first to demonstrate that an overall healthy lifestyle really outweighs any individual healthy lifestyle factors followed by mothers when it comes to lowering the risk of obesity in their children.”
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