Monday, December 5, 2011

Prenatal Nutrition & Infant Predisposition for Obesity

This past month, I read an absolutely fascinating book - "Why We Get Fat (And What to Do About It)" by Gary Taubes. May I say that I highly recommend this book? It is an amazing book, and it completely turned my notion of nutritional cuase-and-effect on its head. Easy to read, great information - check it out!! (And this is not just for people trying to lose weight - it's a great read for any and all.)

While reading, I found a fascinating passage on maternal prenatal nutrition and the "inheritance" of obesity between generations. Here it is!

"Fat children tend to be born of fat parents..... Children in the womb are supplied with nutrients from the mother (through the placenta and umbilical cord) in proportion to the level of those nutrients in the mother's blood. This means that the higher the level of the mother's blood sugar, the more glucose her child gets in the womb.
 "As the pancreas in that child develops, it apparently responds to this higher dose of glucose by developing more insulin-secreting cells. So, the higher the blood sugar in the pregnant mother, the more insulin-secreting cells her child will develop, and the more insulin the child will secrete as it gets close to birth. The baby will now be born with more fat, and it will have a tendency to oversecrete insulin and become insulin-resistant itself as it gets older. It will be predisposed to get fat as it ages. In animal studies, this predisposition often manifests itself only when the animal reaches its version of middle age. If this observation translates to humnans, then some of us are programmed in the womb to get fat in middle age, even if we show little or no sign of this predisposition when we're young.
 "This is almost assuredly the reason why obese mothers, diabetic mothers, others who gain excessive weight during pregnancy, and mothers who become diabetic in pregnancy... all tend to have larger and fatter babies. These women tend to be insulin-resistant and have higher levels of blood sugar.
 And the conclusion:

"But if fatter mothers have fatter babies, and fatter babies become fatter mothers, where does it stop? This suggests that, as the obesity epidemic took off, and we all began getting fatter, we began to program more and more of our children from the first few months of their existence to get fatter still. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising if this particular vicious cycle is one cause of the obesity epidemic. Thus we have more than our own health to consider when we get fat. Our children, too, may pay a price, and their children. And each successive generation may find it that much harder to undo the problem." (pp. 131-132)
 Fascinating stuff! Check out the book!

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