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A mother’s consumption of ultra-processed foods appears to be associated with an increased risk of being overweight or obese in her offspring, independent of other lifestyle risk factors, a US study published in BMJ today.

The researchers say more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand the factors that may be responsible.

But they suggest that mothers may benefit from limiting their intake of ultra-processed foods dietary recommendations needs to be clarified and financial and social barriers removed to improve the nutrition of women of childbearing age and reduce childhood obesity.

According to the World Health Organization, 39 million children were overweight or obese in 2020, putting them at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and early death.

Ultra-processed foods, such as packaged baked goods and snacks, carbonated beverages, and sugary cereals, are commonly found in modern Western-style diets and are associated with weight gain in adults. But it is not clear whether there is a link between a mother’s consumption of ultra-processed foods and the body weight of her offspring.

To explore this further, the researchers drew on data from 19,958 children born to 14,553 mothers (45% boys aged 7-17 at study entry) from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) and the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS). I and II) in the United States.

NHS II appears ongoing research health and lifestyle tracking of 116,429 US registered nurses aged 25-42 in 1989. Since 1991, participants have reported what they ate and drank using validated food frequency questionnaires every four years.

The GUTS I study began in 1996, when 16,882 children (aged 8-15) participating in NHS II completed a baseline health and lifestyle questionnaire and were followed up every year between 1997 and 2001 and every two years thereafter. year

In 2004, 10,918 children (aged 7–17) of NHS II participants joined the GUTS II extension study and were followed in 2006, 2008 and 2011 and every two years thereafter.

A number of other potentially influential factors are known to be closely correlated with childhood obesity, were also taken into account. These included maternal weight (BMI), physical activitysmoking, marital status (with or without a partner) and partner’s education, as well as children’s consumption of ultra-processed foods, physical activity and sedentary time.

Overall, 2,471 (12%) children developed overweight or obesity during a mean follow-up period of 4 years.

The results show that a mother’s consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with an increased risk of being overweight or obese in her offspring. For example, a 26% higher risk was seen in the group with the highest maternal intake of ultra-processed foods (12.1 servings per day) compared to the group with the lowest intake (3.4 servings per day).

In a separate analysis of 2,790 mothers and 2,925 children with dietary information from 3 months before conception and before delivery (pregnancy), researchers found that during pregnancy, consumption of ultra-processed foods was not significantly associated with an increased risk of offspring. overweight or obese.

This is an an observational study, so I can’t establish the reason; and the researchers acknowledge that some of the observed risk may be attributable to other unmeasured factors, and that self-reported diet and weight may be subject to misreporting.

Other important limitations include the fact that some of the participants’ offspring were lost to follow-up, which led to insufficient power in some analyses, particularly those related to consumption during pregnancy, and that the mothers were predominantly white and from similar social and economic backgrounds. therefore, the results may not apply to other groups.

However, the study used data from several large ongoing studies with detailed dietary assessments over a relatively long period, and further analysis produced consistent associations, suggesting that the results are robust.

The researchers did not pinpoint the exact mechanism underlying these associations, and say this is an area that needs further study.

However, these data “support the importance of improving dietary guidelines and developing nutrition programs for women of reproductive age to promote healthy offspring,” they conclude.


Ultra-processed foods are associated with an increased risk of CHD


Additional information:
Maternal intake of ultra-processed foods and subsequent risk of offspring overweight or obesity: results from three prospective cohort studies. BMJ (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmj-2022-071767

Citation: Mother’s ultra-processed food intake may be associated with obesity risk in her children (2022, October 5) retrieved October 5, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-10-mother-ultra-processed-food – intake-linked.html

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