Healthy Living

Obesity Skips A Generation: Grandchildren More Inclined To Develop Diabetes, Heart Disease From Obese Grandmothers

Obesity Skips A Generation; Grandchildren More Inclined To Develop Diabetes, Heart Disease From Obese Grandmothers
Researchers found that obese mothers could pass on risks of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes to their grandchildren. Creative Commons

Obesity may be sparing the lives of mothers and causing weight gain in their own children, a new study shows, potentially paving better health policy insights in wake of the obesity epidemic.

UK researchers from the Univeristy of Edinburgh drew their attention to the health of three generations in order to find that even moderately obese mothers pass birth weight, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes risks to their grandchildren, while skipping their own children.

A moderately obese body mass index (BMI) measures between 30 and 34.9, while BMI of 35 to 40 is severely obese.

"Given the worldwide increase in obesity, it is vital that we gain an understanding of how future generations may be affected," said Amanda Drake, senior clinical research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Researchers studied the high fat and sugar diet in moderately obese mice before and during pregnancy to discover that they passed obesity and its associated risks to the second generation, or their grandkids, with no repercussions seen in the first generation.

The team suspects that the first generation is more protected due to the mother's weight gain while being pregnant or the kinds of food she ate.

A past study by the Hebrew University-Hadassah's Braun School of Public Health found that obese mothers put their children at greater risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.

While this study's authors said it is harder to study the consequences of obesity by generation in humans, they said it is possible.

"Future studies could look at these trends in humans but they would need to take into account genetics, environmental, social and cultural factors," Drake added.

More than a third of the U.S. adult population is obese and African Americans, 49.5 percent, and Mexican Americans, 40.4 percent, are more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic whites, 34.3 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

Source: King V, Dakin RS, Liu L, et al. Maternal obesity has little effect on the immediate offpring but impacts on the next generation. Endocrinology. 2013.

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