Healthy lifestyle recommendations for obese pregnant women should include a recommendation to minimize the time they spend sitting. A new study, in which Spanish researchers participate, shows that a change in the lifestyle of the mother during pregnancy can influence the fat of her baby.
More than a third of children are overweight or obese in Spain. The prevention of these problems has to start during pregnancy or even earlier. Pregnant women with obesity often give birth to babies with too much fat and a higher risk of being obese during childhood and adolescence, which also increases the risk of developing other health problems, such as type 2 diabetes.
The DALI study (Vitamin D and Lifestyle Intervention for Gestational Diabetes Prevention), led by Rosa Corcoy, researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research in Network for Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN) and director of the Diabetes Unit at Hospital Sant Pau, has addressed in two clinical trials in 9 European countries different prevention strategies for gestational diabetes.
In one of these trials on lifestyle modification, pregnant women with obesity were incorporated into a program to improve physical activity, healthy eating or a combination of both. The results of the group were compared with a control group.
According to Corcoy, “when measuring the subcutaneous fat (skinfold) of the babies of the women who participated in the study a few hours after birth, we saw that the participants who received counseling in both physical activity and healthy eating gained less weight, increase their physical activity, improve their eating habits and also reduced the time they spent sitting. But the most important thing is that their babies had less fat at birth than the babies of women who did not participate in the lifestyle intervention.”
Less sofa and more walking
Once the work was completed, a more detailed analysis was made of what aspect of lifestyle was related to the reduction of adiposity of the babies; and the researchers found that there was no relationship with increased physical activity or less weight gain, but there was with the reduction of time mothers spent sitting.
“Thanks to this study we were able to demonstrate that obese women can reduce their babies’ fat by changing their lifestyle during pregnancy,” concludes the researcher.
Experts suggest that healthy lifestyle recommendations for obese pregnant women should include the importance of reducing the time they spend sitting. “This could be a simpler message to adopt than increase physical activity,” they said.