The latest research into obesity has found that the health related risks associated with obese mothers could skip a generation.
Researchers from Edinburgh University have found that the health of obese mothers has a lasting effect for future generations, with their grandchildren bearing the brunt of the health burden – despite their own children having been spared.
The study, conducted on mice, found that, while a mother’s obesity showed virtually no harmful effects on the health of the first generation, it had a lasting effect for the health of those born in the second generation.
Moderately obese female mice were fed a diet high in fat and sugar before and during pregnancy. Babies’ birth weight and diabetes risk were shown to increase substantially in the second generation.
While it is still unclear why the first generation is protected from the health side effects, researchers believe a number of factors: including maternal weight gain during pregnancy or even specific foods eaten during pregnancy, could be among the causes.
Published in Endocrinology, the study’s author said that studying these trends, referred to as developmental programming, in humans, could be vital in the fight against obesity.
“Given the worldwide increase in obesity, it is vital that we gain an understanding of how future generations may be affected,” argued Dr Amanda Drake, a research fellow from Edinburgh University.
“Future studies could look at these trends in humans but they would need to take into account genetics, environmental, social and cultural factors,” she added
Global obesity rates are at an all time high and experts believe the results of the study could help to inform future health policy and public awareness of the risks associated with obesity.