Preventing child obesity in the next generation must start before conception

New Delhi [India]: The key to preventing obesity in future generations is to make their parents healthier before they conceive, suggests a recent research.

In a series of papers, the researchers said that the time before couples conceive represents a missed opportunity to prevent the transmission of obesity risk from one generation to the next.

They argue that a new approach is needed to motivate future parents to live a healthier lifestyle.

There is now a wealth of evidence that 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 – it is a vicious cycle.

The nature of this problem is not adequately appreciated. 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.

Many pregnancies are unplanned and the special needs of adolescents and young people at this important time are not sufficiently recognised.

Far from helping them to prepare and plan for pregnancy and parenthood, many public health programmes assume that their needs are similar to the general population and require no special measures or provisions.

In a comment piece accompanying the research papers, Mark Hanson of the University of Southampton, said an entirely new approach is needed that engages parents-to-be and encourages them to be part of the solution.

“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,” Hanson writes.

“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. Additionally, the political leaders who have committed to the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health must give adolescent health priority in national health strategies, plans, and budgets. Only these actions will enable the transformation required,” he added.

The research was published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology. (ANI)