Counting the Ways Kids Could Grow Obese

Overweight and smoking moms more likely to have overweight children

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Many factors influence individuals' weight. The same is true for children. Preventing obesity is easier when we know what factors increase a baby's risk of becoming overweight.

A recent review of research found early weight gain and a high birth weight put children at higher risk for obesity.

If women can lose weight before becoming pregnant and if they do not smoke during pregnancy, their child is already at a lower risk for obesity.

"Don't smoke while pregnant."

The study, led by Stephen Franklin Weng, of the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health at the School of Community Health Sciences in the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, reviewed the research literature for risk factors related to obesity in children in their first year of life.

The researchers used the databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and CAB Abstracts to find studies related to obesity in childhood and identified 30 studies.

Studies were not included if they did not explicitly measure outcomes related to children's weight or if they were not prospective. A prospective study follows people from one point forward instead of looking back on the past.

Taken together, the data from these studies indicated that children were at a higher risk for obesity if they gained weight rapidly during their first year, if their mothers were overweight before pregnancy and if they were heavy babies at birth.

The researchers also found breastfed babies were 15 percent less likely to be overweight as children than babies who were not breastfed.

Children whose mothers smoked while pregnant were 47 percent more likely to be overweight in childhood.

The researchers found a little bit of evidence that children may be at a higher risk for being overweight if they are introduced to solid foods early as well.

The research literature had contradictory evidence when it came to whether obesity risk was affected by how long a woman breastfed, the family's socioeconomic status when a baby was born, the number of children a woman had or whether a woman was married when she gave birth.

The following factors were not linked to childhood obesity: a mom's age or education when she gave birth, whether she was depressed or not and the baby's race/ethnicity.

Insufficient evidence existed to determine whether a child's risk of being overweight was related to the type of birth a woman had, how much weight the mother gained during pregnancy, how much weight she lost after giving birth or how fussy a baby's temperament was.

Overall, the two factors moms have the most influence over are smoking and weight.

The study was published October 29 in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood. The study was funded by National Health Service Nottinghamshire County PCT in the UK. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 27, 2012
Last Updated:
October 30, 2012