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Healthy Lifestyle & Lower Risk of Obesity in Offspring

BMJ; ePub 2018 Jul 4; Dhana, Haines, et al

Adherence to a healthy lifestyle in mothers during their offspring’s childhood and adolescence is associated with a substantially reduced risk of obesity in their children, a recent study found. Researchers examined the association between an overall maternal health lifestyle (characterized by a healthy body mass index [BMI], high quality diet, regular exercise, no smoking, and light to moderate alcohol intake) and the risk of developing obesity in offspring in 24,289 participants from the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) aged 9-14 years at baseline who were free of obesity and born to 16,945 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII). They found:

  • 1,285 (5.3%) offspring became obese during a median follow-up of 5 years.
  • Risk of incident obesity was lower among offspring whose mothers maintained a healthy BMI of 18.5-24.9, engaged in at least 150 min/week of moderate/vigorous physical activities, and consumed alcohol in moderation, compared with the rest.
  • Offspring of women who adhered to all 5 low risk lifestyle factors had a 75% lower risk of obesity than offspring of mothers who did not adhere to any low risk factor.
  • Children’s lifestyle did not significantly account for the association between maternal lifestyle and offspring obesity risk.


Dhana K, Haines J, Liu G, et al. Association between maternal adherence to healthy lifestyle practices and risk of obesity in offspring: Results from two prospective cohort studies of mother-child pairs in the United States. [Published online ahead of print July 4, 2018]. BMJ. doi:10.1136/bmj.k2486.