Simple lifestyle interventions during pregnancy can prevent children from becoming obese
In a study that followed more than 2,200 obese women during pregnancy, scientists affiliated with Professor Jodie Dodd from the University of Adelaide, Australia found that some simple interventions can help prevent high birth weights in newborns. This is important because previous studies have shown that infants with a high birth weight have a greater risk of becoming obese as children or adults.This study is part of the EC-funded EarlyNutrition Project (http://www.project-earlynutrition.eu/), which is coordinated by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) in Munich.
One half of the pregnant women were provided with advice and support to change their eating habits, which included increasing the number of servings per day of fruits and vegetables, while reducing their intake of foods that were high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats. Women were also encouraged to increase their physical activity, primarily through increasing their walking and incidental activity level.
Professor Jodie Dodd summarizes the results: ‘Infants born to women who received lifestyle advice were 18% less likely to have a high birth weight compared to infants born to women who received standard care. ‘ As obesity in children as well as in adults is becoming one of the largest health problems, reducing high infant birth weights is one good strategy to tackle obesity.
The EC-funded EarlyNutrition Project is currently the largest project investigating the effects of early nutrition on health in later life. Researchers from 36 institutions in 15 countries in Europe, the United States and Australia have joined forces to study how early nutrition programming and lifestyle factors impact the rates of obesity and related disorders. The term programming effect refers to the finding that nutrition and lifestyle during pregnancy and infancy can affect a range of different body functions. These programmed changes in the body increase the likelihood of becoming overweight and developing obesity-associated diseases in later life.
Berthold Koletzko, Brigitte Brands, Michael Chourdakis, Simone Cramer, Veit Grote, Christian Hellmuth, Franca Kirchberg, Christine Prell, Peter Rzehak, Olaf Uhl, Martina Weber. The Power of Programming and the EarlyNutrition Project: Opportunities for Health Promotion by Nutrition during the First Thousand Days of Life and Beyond. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2014; 64 (3-4): 187 DOI: 10.1159/000365017