Obese mums may pass obesity on to children

New research suggests obesity may be passed on in the womb. Photo: Getty

It’s no surprise that a parent’s health habits are likely to be passed on to their children but new research suggests that offspring of obese people may be predisposed from the womb.

A report presented to the American Diabetes Association suggests that children born to obese mothers may be more likely to also suffer obesity because of their womb environment.

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Scientists from Colorado University conducted the study by analysing stem cells taken from umbilical chords of babies born to both mothers who were obese and those of a healthy weight. In a lab environment, they encouraged the stem cells to develop muscle and fat.

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They discovered that cells from obese mothers had 30 per cent more fat than those from healthy weight mothers, which suggests those babies are more likely to gain weight.

It’s unclear whether this means these children are more likely to develop chronic illnesses associated with obesity, such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes, but study authors say it’s worth investigating further into the effects of childhood obesity.

“The next step is to follow these offspring to see if thee is a lasting change into adulthood,” said lead study author Kristen Boyle.

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