Fat Pregnant Mom? Fat Baby? Maybe

Now I know I must take responsibility for this.  Even though I tried not to, I took being pregnant as license to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.  As a result, I gained 50 pounds (that took nine months to gain and over two years to lose).

A new study just out says that women who eat high-fat foods while pregnant may not only produce big babies, but actually change their offsprings' brains in the way they think about food.

I'm in the stats for the first part -- my son, who was delivered at 39 weeks because of his size, weighed in at nine pounds (though the doctors, who actually set up a betting pool, were thinking a 10- or 11-pounder), but not the second.  This kid, at 12, doesn't even tip the scales at 80 pounds.

The study, done by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, found that "exposure to a high-fat diet in the womb and after birth can permanently change the cells in the brain that control food intake, predisposing monkeys to overeating and an increased preference for fatty and sugary foods."

Now, our kids of course aren't monkeys but the researchers found it held true for human babies, too.  Using my son again as an example, he's not big on fatty foods, but he does like an occasional Kit Kat.  (I suspect he skews the stats.)

And it affects BMI, too.  “Studies in humans have demonstrated that maternal obesity during pregnancy is a strong determinant of offspring body mass index, or BMI,” newswise.com quotes the study’s lead author, Juliana Gastao Franco, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon Health and Science University.

Males, in particular, had increased body weight, the study found, regardless of what they ate after going onto solid food as babies.  What's particularly concerning is that this tendency may very well haunt children throughout their lives, even if they live on broccoli and bananas, because a high-fat diet in a pregnant woman causes changes to the hypothalamus, which controls the nervous system.

I, who have struggled with my weight all my life (made "lifetime" membership at Weight Watchers 3 times and now going for a 4th!), am so glad that I have not , at least for now, put this on my son.  My husband, who's a nut about eating healthy (though I've seen him consume a Kit Kat or two), has emblazoned this on Phillip's brain.  The other day, when I was offering a friend's marble cake studded with chocolate chips or a piece of his ice cream birthday cake, he said, "Which is healthier?"

Of course, neither!  But did I really give birth to this boy?


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