Moms who follow 5 healthy habits reduce risk of raising obese kids

Leslie Hanson
July 7, 2018

Childhood obesity is an ongoing problem around the world, but in Canada, youth obesity rates have almost tripled in the last 30 years, the Government of Canada website reports.

In a country where about 1 out of 5 children under 19 years old are obese - according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention -, the experts made a decision to investigate what was making that number so high.

Researchers Dr Ross Wilson and Professor Haxby Abbott from the University of Otago's Centre for Musculoskeletal Outcomes Research at the Dunedin School of Medicine said the Government needed to take action to address the situation.

For this study, researchers focused on the association between a mother's lifestyle and the risk of obesity among their children and adolescents between 9 and 18 years of age.

A new study is predicting two million New Zealanders could be considered clinically obese in the next 20 years. But the degree to which these behaviors made a difference may still be surprising.

Adolescents whose mothers follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and refrain from smoking may be 75% less likely to develop obesity, according to a study.

The risk of obesity was also lower among children of mothers' who consumed low or moderate levels of alcohol compared with children of mothers who abstained from alcohol. These mothers maintain a healthy weight, exercise at least the recommended 150 minutes per week, and don't smoke.

Eating a healthy diet: This was scored according to adherence to the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010, characterised by high intakes of vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains and unsaturated "good" fats, and low intakes of red and processed meat, sugary drinks and salty foods.

An worldwide team based in Canada and the United States examined medical history and lifestyle characteristics of 24,289 children ages 9 to 14 born to 16,945 women in two U.S. studies, and had participants complete detailed questionnaires about their medical history and lifestyle.

The Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) began in 1996 with a mission to better understand how diet and exercise influence weight changes throughout the course of a person's life. A new study suggests that if moms apply the same habits they're trying to teach their kids to themselves, they can actually reduce their children's chances of becoming obese by 75 per cent. Smoking status played a big role too, with non-smokers children 31% less likely to become obese.

Previous studies have shown that children's lifestyle choices are largely influenced by their mothers, however, it is unknown whether healthy lifestyle patterns in mothers during their offspring's childhood and adolescence influence the development of obesity.

The study also found mothers and children who follow healthier lifestyles lower the risk of childhood obesity by 82 percent.

Still, there are a lot of other questions to answer.

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. Data from a wider swath of the United States population would be helpful.

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