It is commonly believed that fat parents lead to fat children, either because of genetics or learned behaviors, or both. But a growing body of research suggests that there may be a third factor, and health experts are examining the links between a child’s very early life and the probability that that child will grow up to be obese, reports The Daily Beast.
Recently, research has found links to obesity that go “all the way back to the womb”, says the article. Unlike most obesity intervention programs which are targeted toward children of school age, early-life studies shift the focus to mothers and her pregnancy.
For example, researchers suggest that slimming down before becoming pregnant may protect a child from a lifetime of obesity and end a family’s cycle of obesity. “It offers one potential intervention that may be effective,” says Robert Waterland, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. And, even if a mother doesn’t start out overweight, research warns that packing on excessive pounds during her pregnancy increases the chances that her child will be obese.
Together, these findings indicate that "the ideal time to begin obesity-prevention efforts is before birth,” says Dr. David Ludwig, one of the authors of that study, “and that the type and amount of food a woman eats during pregnancy may have lasting consequences for her offspring.”