Monday, August 11, 2008

Obese begets obesesier

In an August 9th New York Times op-ed piece, Olivia Judson writes about rat studies which show that mothers who consume large amounts of junk food (as opposed to balanced rat chow) while pregnant give birth to babies with a hankering for junk food. Human studies are less definite but,

"...the results of several studies suggest that the very fact of a woman being obese during pregnancy may predispose her children to obesity. For example, one study found that children born to women who have lost weight after radical anti-obesity surgery are less likely to be obese than siblings born before their mother lost weight. Another study looked at women who gained weight between pregnancies; the results showed that babies born after their mothers put on weight tended to be heavier at birth than siblings born beforehand. Since the mother’s genes haven’t changed, the “fat” environment seems likely to be responsible for the effect."

Speaking as a health care professional who routinely cares for obese people, uh, yikes. This could result in a nasty geometric progression of obesity and related disease (diabetes, hypertension, heart and vascular disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea) in the next generation. Not to mention the increased incidence of lower back problems in the nurses who have to move such patients. Body mechanics of moving patients was one of the first things I learned in nursing school skills class and rightly so.

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