Obesity in a child, which begins after 10 years, depends on what his mother ate when she carried him in her womb. This is evidenced by a large study by Irish scientists from University College Dublin.
It would seem that there is no connection between what the mother ate during pregnancy and obesity or overweight that developed in the child 10 years after birth. Well, it would be a question of increased weight when they were born in the hospital. In fact, there are already several such studies, and there is an explanation for this phenomenon.
“1000 first days of life”
Among scientists there is a hypothesis called “1000 first days of life.” This refers not to the first three years of life, but the time from conception to two years. What happens at this time with the fetus, and then with the child, largely programs it for life. This is a critical period for preventing obesity in the future life. Therefore, mistakes in nutrition, first of the expectant mother, and then in feeding the child in the first two years, can have far-reaching consequences for their child. After all, obesity in childhood often persists into adulthood and is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart and vascular disease, and, of course, a shorter life.
It is believed that the so-called pro-inflammatory components play a negative role in the development of obesity. They are found in many foods, primarily in highly processed foods, as well as in fatty, sweet and high-carbohydrate foods, and contribute to the development of sluggish immune inflammation in the body. Such food is typical of both the Western style of eating and ours. First of all, these are almost ready-to-eat products (sausages, sweets, cookies, etc.), as well as semi-finished products that you just need to warm up. Because of their convenience in cooking, as well as the high amount of sugar and salt that add flavor, they are super popular.
Born thin, got fat at 10
To explore how maternal diet might affect childhood obesity, the researchers analyzed data from 16,295 mother-child couples from Ireland, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Poland. The average age of the mothers was 30 years, they had a normal weight, it was determined by body mass index (BMI). Women completed questionnaires on nutrition during pregnancy. After birth, the weight of children was periodically assessed. The study was published in the renowned journal BMC Medicine.
It turned out that in younger children there was no relationship between weight and mother’s nutrition during pregnancy. But at the age of 10-11 years, children born to mothers who were poorly and malnourished during pregnancy began to gain weight more often and more. In addition, their muscles turned out to be worse developed – the amount of muscle mass was less. Based on these data, scientists conclude that such maternal nutrition adversely affects the body composition of children and increases the risk of obesity, especially in late childhood.
It’s all about the genes, but not their mutations
The problem is that pro-inflammatory foods cause so-called epigenetic changes. Figuratively speaking, these are not mutations, but editorial marks on genes. As a result, information from genes is less readable, and they change their activity. In relation to this problem, there are changes in those genes that regulate fat cells and the formation of fat in the body.
A person has several age periods during which fat accumulation increases. For example, this happens in late pregnancy, in the first year of life and at the age of 9-14 years. And the marks on specific genes can act at different periods of childhood. It seems that in this case they begin to influence genes that play a large role in late childhood – after 9 years.
At the forefront
This is a very advanced and interesting science that studies various effects on the body during certain critical periods, they are called windows. Most of them are in the first 1000 days of life. In fact, the entire pregnancy is a critical window for different organs and systems.
Initially, this science originated in veterinary medicine. As a result, scientists today manage to program farm animals with the help of special feeds, drugs and other influences so that their breeding is more profitable.
In humans, it is more difficult to study all this, researchers are still at the very beginning, but over time this will allow better control over the development of the fetus and young children, programming them for a healthier life.
But it is already clear that it is extremely important to eat right during pregnancy, and it is even better to start doing this even 2-3 months before conception. And you need to give preference to primary products, vegetables, herbs, fruits, whole grain bread and cereals. And from sweet, fatty, high-carbohydrate foods and foods with a lot of additives, you should give up as much as possible. The health of the children is worth it.