Posts Tagged ‘ Obesity ’

Obese Dads Could Raise Baby’s Autism Risk

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

While a mom’s weight before and during pregnancy is often a hot topic (we worry about eating enough of the right things and as few of the bad things as possible), we often forget that it takes two (at least) to make a baby. So how much does the dad’s health and DNA contribute to your baby bundle? Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that obese fathers up the risk of autism in their children more so than obese moms. That’s right—the dad-to-be’s weight seems to be more of a contributing factor than the mom-to-be’s!

They studied nearly 93,000 Norwegian children at three, five and seven. The mothers answered detailed questions about their own—and their children’s—mental and physical health, while the dads completed a questionnaire about their mental and physical health while their partners were pregnant. The researchers also collected data from the Norwegian Patient Registry and from studies of children who were referred for evaluation and treatment of possible autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

The researchers adjusted for variables that may also be associated with the development of autism in the child. In addition to adjusting for maternal obesity, they considered education, age, smoking, mental disorders, hormone therapy before pregnancy, use of folic acid, maternal diabetes, preeclampsia and the baby’s weight at birth. The researchers found that the risk remained unchanged when adjusted for socio-demographic and lifestyle factors.

The findings say that maternal obesity has little association with the development of autism in the child. However, they found a doubled risk for development of autism and Asperger’s syndrome in the child if the father was obese, compared with a normal weight father. (But note, the odds are small: just under 0.3 percent of kids with obese dads were diagnosed with autism, versus 0.14 percent of kids with fathers at healthy weights.)

Doctors still don’t know why a father’s obesity could cause a higher rate of autism in his kids. There could be an indirect association with certain gene variations, or obese men might be more likely to have certain environmental exposures that contribute to autism. But there also might be a direct tie, like the extra weight might actually alter sperm quality, leading to malformations that would cause autism. More research needs to be done on the subject to find a definite cause and effect, but all signs point to the fact that both mom and dad’s health contribute to whether you’ll have a healthy baby. So if you’re trying to get pregnant, set a standing date for a couple’s workout!

TELL US: Are you surprised to hear that a dad’s weight could raise his baby’s autism risk?

How much do you know about toddler nutrition? Put your IQ to the test.

Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism
Early Signs of Autism

Image of man’s belly courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

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Is Your Unborn Child Already a Junk Food Junkie?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Put down those Doritos and read this! The foods you’re eating during pregnancy and while breast feeding are shaping the way that your unborn child will eat for years to come, according to a new study. That’s right—bad eating habits form in utero.

Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research organization in Philadelphia, found that babies’ taste buds are directly linked to what their moms ate while pregnant with them. So if you’re eating a diverse and varied diet, your child will eventually be a less picky eater, who is open to trying new things. Your good habits are being passed down to them, and that will show in how they eat as toddlers and later on as adults.

But your bad habits are being passed down as well. A study conducted at the University of Adelaide in South Australia found that if you are eating sugary or fatty foods, your child will actually have cravings for those foods and form an emotional attachment to them. Moms who ate Froot Loops, Cheetos and Nutella during pregnancy had children that built up a tolerance for those foods, so that they needed more of them to get the same gratification from eating them. That is how researchers believe the US’ obesity epidemic all started (70 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese).

According to the New York Times, “researchers believe that the taste preferences that develop at crucial periods during infancy have lasting effects for life. In fact, changing food preferences beyond toddlerhood appears to be extremely difficult.” So when you tell people you’re “eating for two,” you really are—not the amount of calories for two people, but you are choosing what your baby will be eating for the rest of his or her life. Just think about that the next time you have a craving! Of course it’s fine to indulge every now and again (here are some ideas for doing that the smart way), but know that your eating habits do have long-term effects on your little one, so choose your meals wisely!

Test your Pregnancy Nutrition IQ here.

TELL US: What foods have you cut out while you’re pregnant? What are your healthy indulgences?

Image of pregnant woman eating a salad courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Pregnant Extreme Dieting: Do Not Try This At Home!

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Of course it’s smart to watch what you eat when you’re pregnant, too much overindulgence in those out-of-control pregnancy cravings can be bad news (leading to bigger, heavier babies, which equals a harder labor for you; and possible obesity in your kid’s future). But a blogger named Loni Jane Anthony has taken the idea of eating well while pregnant to the extreme into totally unsafe territory. The 25-year-old Australian woman, who is 26 weeks pregnant, has come under fire for following a radical fruit diet, eating mostly bananas (up to 20 a day!), drinking fruit smoothies and occasionally pairing it with a salad for dinner.

The super-skinny mom-to-be—who has nearly 120,000 followers on Instagram—is being called “irresponsible” and “narcissistic” by critics who think her diet is incredibly dangerous for her baby, because it’s not being given enough proteins or a variety of nutrients. According to Medical Daily, Loni wakes up every morning between 4:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. to drink two liters of warm water with lemon. A typical breakfast includes either having half a watermelon, a banana smoothie, or whole oranges. She is following the 80:10:10 diet made up of 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fat, and 10 percent protein, which mainly consists of fruit and water.

The Mayo Clinic says the diet of a pregnant woman should consist of nutrients like folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, protein, and iron, which can be obtained through the consumption of foods such as spinach, beans, milk, yogurt, salmon, eggs, lentils, and poultry. It is suggested that pregnant women have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.

Since Loni’s diet is short in protein—which helps with growth and repair of tissues—and several essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, and zinc, it can lead to the baby taking calcium from her bones and leaving Loni susceptible for osteoporosis later in life.

While Loni denies she is on this diet because she’s afraid of gaining weight during her pregnancy, that’s certainly what it looks like to the outside world. And while it is completely unhealthy, with all of the “weight shaming” women receive in the media, especially while pregnant (like Kim Kardashian and Jessica Simpson), I can understand how women who may already have an addictive personality or have had a previous eating disorder could take things to the dangerous extreme. Approximately 10 million women struggle with an eating disorder, and pregnant women with active eating disorders—often referred to as being pregorexic—are at a much higher risk of delivering a preterm baby or baby with low birth weight; having to have a C-section; and suffering from postpartum depression after delivery.

If you’re battling with an eating disorder, it’s best to seek help for you and your baby’s health. For more info from the National Eating Disorders Association, click here.

TELL US: Do you think “weight shaming” women leads to eating disorders? Do you think Loni Jane Anthony needs a food intervention?

Image of Loni Jane Anthony via Instagram.

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