How Foods to Eat During Pregnancy Can Lead to Baby’s Obesity?

The relationship between a mother’s diet during pregnancy and the risk of overweight and obesity in the child is not a well-researched topic of obesity. There are, however, some studies that are paving the way to more research in this area. In 2008, Brazilian nutritionists conducted a study on mice and found that if the foods the mother ate during pregnancy were high in fat, the newborn pup had higher percentage body fat. Here are some details on the study:

How Foods Eaten During Pregnancy in Female Mice May Cause Obesity in the Baby:

  • Cells are the basic building blocks of the human body. The functions of cells and processes in the body are determined and monitored by chemical instructions called genes.
  • Proteins are the complex molecules that carry out functions in the body, as instructed by the genes.
  • Adipokines are such proteins involved with the functioning of fat cells, allowing signals to be passed between the cells.
  • This 2008 study was carried out on experimental mice. The results showed that when pregnant mothers were fed a diet rich in fat, it lead to alteration in the way adipokines functioned.
  • The relationship between adipokine function and insulin production was also explored as part of the study.
  • The results showed a 40 percent increase in the body fat content of the young rats born to pregnant mothers who consumed high-fat diets during pregnancy.
  • The body of these young rats also required higher levels of insulin in the body, which increases their risk for type 2 diabetes and other obesity and metabolic related disorders.

Significance of the Research:

Diagnosis of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes has increased drastically in the recent years. Although researchers are continuing to look for ways to treat these conditions, the numbers of children affected still continue to rise. This research study, if found applicable to humans, gives evidence for how pregnant women may be able to help prevent these conditions in their children before they even begin.

Even though there is still a lot more to learn on exactly how maternal and fetal weight and diet are related, numerous studies clearly show that a healthy diet during pregnancy is essential for healthy babies. Women who are pregnant should make it a priority to consume a healthy, well-rounded diet throughout their pregnancy and gain a healthy amount of weight.


Dunn, G.; Bale, T. “Maternal High-Fat Diet Promotes Body Length Increases and Insulin Insensitivity in Second-Generation Mice”. Endocrinology. 2009; 150(11):4999–5009. http://endo.endojournals.org/content/150/11/4999.full.pdf+htm

S. M. Krasnow, M. L. T. Nguyen, D. L. Marks. “Increased Maternal Fat Consumption During Pregnancy Alters Body Composition in Neonatal Mice”. AJP: Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011; DOI: 10.1152/ajpendo.00261.2011

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (2008, September 30). Why A Mother’s High-fat Diet Contributes To Obesity In Her Children. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 10, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2008/09/080930135251.htm

Olson C, Strawderman M, Dennison B. Maternal weight gain during pregnancy and child weight at age 3 years. Matern Child Health J 2009;13(6):839-46.

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