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Pre-Conception Obesity Prevention

Posted Oct 07 2008 7:06pm

by Andrea Wilson

Who ever thought the day would come when childhood obesity prevention would start before pregnancy even begins? An article from the New York Times, titled “ Honey, I Plumped the Kids ”, discusses the possible interactions between obesity of pregnant women and the weight of their children.

With one third of U.S. women of child-bearing age (between 20 and 39) being obese, the need for an intervention is more critical than ever before. Research, though not conclusive, indicates that “an obese environment in the womb” can affect the fetus via the nutrients passed through the woman’s diet and the hormonal changes caused by obesity. These factors can influence weight at birth and throughout childhood.

Doctors recommend a 100-300 per day calorie increase and weight gain of up to 35 pounds during pregnancy. In order to sustain healthy eating behaviors throughout pregnancy, experts suggest that women with poor eating habits begin to incorporate more wholesome foods before attempting to get pregnant. This includes healthful foods that promote a careful balance of carbohydrates, protein, fats, and fiber. Women wishing to become pregnant who are overweight carry an additional responsibility to reach a healthy weight before conceiving.

Investing in prenatal education about weight loss and maintenance is an investment in the health of children. Partnering with OBGYNs, community health centers, and other reproductive health care providers will allow those in the obesity field to demonstrate the importance of healthy eating habits. Due to the possibility of unintended pregnancy, audiences should include all women of childbearing age, not just those who plan to become pregnant. Women know the consequences of smoking and alcohol and even the need for prenatal vitamins during pregnancy. It is time they understand how their eating behaviors and weight can also effect their children.

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