Having a healthy mother cuts risk of children being obese
Children whose mothers stay healthy while they grow up are "substantially" less likely to be obese, new research suggests.
The offspring of mothers who maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, do not smoke and drink moderately have a lower risk of developing obesity, a study published in journal the 'BMJ' found.
When both mother and child stick to a healthy lifestyle this risk falls even further, the researchers said.
The study examined the medical history and lifestyles of more than 24,000 children aged from nine to 14, born to almost 17,000 women in the US.
Researchers assessed the link between overall maternal health - characterised by a healthy BMI, high-quality diet, regular exercise, no smoking and light to moderate alcohol intake - and the chances of their offspring being obese.
Children of mothers who met all five of these criteria had a 75pc lower risk of developing obesity than those whose mothers did not meet any, they found.
When both children and mothers followed a healthy lifestyle, there was a 82pc reduced risk of their offspring being obese.
The risk of obesity was 56pc lower in children of women with a healthy body weight than those in other BMI categories.
These associations were seen when taking into account factors including age, ethnicity, disease history, household income and education.
Research has shown the lifestyle choices of children are influenced by their mothers.
However it was not previously known if healthy lifestyle patterns in mothers during their offspring's childhood and adolescence could influence the development of obesity, the researchers from Harvard University said.