A study performed by scientists at Harvard University demonstrated that mothers can prevent their kids from becoming obese if they first follow a healthy lifestyle.
An index between 18.5kg/m2 and 25kg/m2 is considered the healthy weight range - anything at 30kg/m2 or above is considered to be obese. They eat a high quality diet, determined by high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and low consumption of sugary beverages, red and processed meat.
One in five American children and teenagers ages 6 to 19 is obese.
After looking at thousands of surveys and several years of lifestyle habits, the researchers found that there was indeed a way to decrease the possibilities for kids to become obese.
They suggested improving the relative affordability of healthy foods; restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods; better nutritional labelling; more education; promotion of active modes of travel; and provision of facilities and space for physical recreation could all help stem the country's growing waistlines.
In a study involving almost 25,000 children, those whose mothers adhered to five factors comprising a healthy lifestyle - healthy diet, regular exercise, BMI less than 25, non-smoking, and low alcohol consumption - had a 75% lower risk for obesity compared to kids of mothers who didn't adhere to any of these healthy habits (relative risk 0.25, 95% CI 0.14-0.47), found Klodian Dhana, MD, PhD, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues.
Individually, each maternal lifestyle factor except healthy diet was associated with a significantly lower risk of obesity in offspring, the authors reported in BMJ.
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Researchers at Harvard University looked at 24,000 children and their mothers. The paper says that the children of moms who followed an overall healthy lifestyle had a lower risk of obesity than mothers who didn't practice these lifestyle choices.
An average of five years after the initial data was collected, just over 5% of the children had become obese. The study also found out that mothers who stay away from the cancer stick also have children who are less prone to be obese.
In addition to their findings, which were published in the British Medical Journal, the study concluded that maternal obesity, smoking habits and a lack of physical activity were strongly associated with obesity in kids.
High BMI had overtaken tobacco as the "greatest contributor to health loss" in New Zealand, he said.
But surprisingly, the researchers found that while diet played a big role, the dietary patterns of the mother didn't impact the child's obesity.
These lifestyle habits have always been related to obesity.
He and Professor Abbott considered potential influences on obesity from the data of 76,294 adult New Zealanders, including the effects of an aging population and cohort effects reflecting the increased exposure of younger New Zealanders to a high-obesity environment during critical phases of childhood development, to see whether these would explain the trends in population BMI.