“Girls should be taught from childbearing age when they are still in school about the importance of staying in shape not just for themselves but for any future, desired children”, or risk their child developing a host of health problems, experts have warned.

Babies are being put at risk of brain damage, stroke, heart attack or asthma in adulthood because their mother was obese, scientists say, reports Daily Mail.

A series of studies suggest the problem begins in the womb – with the time before couples begin a family representing a ‘missed opportunity’ to tackle it.

Research has also shown youngsters are more likely to pile on the pounds if their parents were overweight before they were born.

Leading doctors argue a new approach is needed to motivate future parents to live a healthier lifestyle.

There is now a wealth of evidence the risk of obesity and its associated conditions, such as heart disease diabetes and some cancers, could impact the developing baby.

In turn, when the child becomes a young adult they may pass the risk of obesity on to their children.

Many young people, whilst appearing outwardly healthy, are nonetheless on a risky path to obesity and chronic disease and more likely to pass this risk to their children, the researchers warn.

Professor Mark Hanson, of the University of Southampton, urged an initiative that engages parents to be and encourages them to be part of the solution.

Engaging future parents in leading healthier lives will not only promote their health later, but will give their children a healthier start to life, they say.

Professor Hanson said: ‘The approach needed is both top down and bottom up, but even more importantly requires something in between which young people can help to create themselves.

‘If at present many young people do not seem to care about their health or view it as a low priority, perhaps they have not been given clear information about what they can do to optimise their health for themselves and their children.

‘All societies owe their adolescents the chance to make their future healthier.

Tam Fry, patron of the Child Growth Foundation, said five years ago he warned the Royal Society of Medicine about the problem in an address to eminent gynaecologists entitled ‘Get In Shape For Serious Sex.’

He said: ‘I am furious about this because the Government is doing nothing, and neither are the royal colleges.

‘A fifth of women are obese when they become pregnant and half are overweight, and no one is flagging this up. Theresa May ignored it in her Childhood Obesity Strategy.

‘It is a fact that most women end up wanting to have a baby and they must be taught from childbearing age when they are still in school about the importance of staying in shape not just for themselves but for any future, desired children.

‘This should start at 12 or 13, even though they may not have a child for another fifteen years or more, if we are to raise awareness.

Lead author Professor Lucilla Poston, head of division of Women’s Health at King’s College London, said: ‘Most women with obesity who intend to conceive are not aware of the risks of infertility or complications.

‘Obesity challenges the health of the mother and has much wider and long-lasting consequences than are generally appreciated by either health professionals or women themselves.

‘A pragmatic solution is required on a global scale, particularly in low-income and middle income countries where we see a rapidly rising problem.’

The researchers also look at the range of effects maternal obesity can have on the child including greater fat tissue, increased risk of allergies and effects on brain and behavioural development, such as autism and ADHD.

The findings were published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Does this concern you in regards to teen body issues and adding even more pressure? Or is it a good idea to warn them of future risks?

Share your comments below.

Image via shutterstock

  • I absolutely agree with this blog. I was not encouraged to exercise, which meant that even know I have trouble motivating myself.


  • I think it’s vital that both boys and girls are taught about being healthy and not exclude it to just girls for child bearing.


  • I think it’s paramount that we stay healthy at all stages of our lives. It’s harder to not put on weight as you get older though!


  • Important for all of us to stay fit and eat healthy !


  • I hope this message gets through to the young girls. I myself didn’t consider working out til in my 40s and it’s much harder to get into into it at this age


  • Some teens spend their pocket money on junk food. A lot did it when I was in high school. I couldn’t because I had braces on my teeth and the orthodontist picked up on it the first time even if I tried to clean my teeth thoroughly.
    I am worried that some teenagers will diet too much and become underweight with organ damage.


  • Important for girls but boys too! :-)


  • And why would this just be a thing to teach “girls”? I think this is an issue that all children and teenagers should be taught for future generations!

    • I agree and made a similar comment – all genders need to care for their health and lifestyle. Fertility issues can occur with all genders.


  • Teaching a healthy and balanced lifestyle through every age and stage is important for all genders.


  • You should always lead a healthy and active life style.


  • I think it’s important to stay healthy all you life for your own sake as well as that of future children.


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