Child obesity rates in the U.S. are at terrifying and dangerous levels. According to the CDC, the obesity rates among children have doubled in the last 30 years—even quadrupling among adolescents. More than ⅓ of American children were obese or overweight in the year 2012. 18% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 were obese in that same year, up from just 7% in 1980. Suffice it to say, your children are at a much greater risk of obesity than ever.
But, according to a new Kaiser Permanente study, there are a few things you can do to reduce your child’s risk of obesity.
In the study, data from more than 15,000 women was included. All of the women had given birth at Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California in 2011. The data pointed to some very simple, very fascinating facts:
- First, women who were obese (who had a BMI higher than 29.9%) before getting pregnant had a significantly higher chance of having an overweight child. Women with a normal BMI (between 18.5 and 25%) had a much lower chance of their child being overweight (BMI in the 85th percentile for their height and weight by age two). Women who were overweight (a BMI between 25 and 29.9%) before their pregnancy had a 50% higher chance of having an overweight child.
- Second, women who gained a lot of weight during their pregnancy were 23% more likely to have overweight children. Women who experienced healthy pregnancy weight gain had a much lower chance of their child being overweight.
- Finally, breastfeeding for six or more months reduced the risk of childhood obesity by as much as 24%. What’s more intriguing about this fact was that the results remained the same across the board, even among the children whose mothers were classified as obese or overweight.
If you want to reduce your child’s risk of being overweight, the time to start thinking about it is before they are born. Getting to a healthy weight before getting pregnant can drastically reduce your child’s risk of childhood obesity. Managing your weight during your pregnancy can also give them a better chance at combating obesity. And last, but certainly not least, breastfeed your child for at least six months.
The combination of these three factors (healthy BMI, normal pregnancy weight gain, and breastfeeding) can go a long way toward keeping your child from being another childhood obesity statistic.
1. Z. Bider-Canfield, M. P. Martinez, X. Wang, W. Yu, M. P. Bautista, J. Brookey, K. A. Page, T. A. Buchanan, A. H. Xiang. “Maternal obesity, gestational diabetes, breastfeeding and childhood overweight at age 2 years“. Pediatric Obesity, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/ijpo.12125.