Weigh parents-to-be, says obesity charity

Overweight pregnant women should be targeted in drive against childhood obesity

Overweight women and their partners should be weighed early in pregnancy, and warned about the risks of raising heavy children, said Britain’s leading obesity charity.

The National Obesity Forum wants midwives to record the BMI of pregnant women and their partners, and if they are overweight to educate them about poor eating patterns.

This follows research showing that obesity, which runs in families, is more likely to be caused by passing on bad habits than genetics.

Government advisors on obesity have welcomed the idea, says the Telegraph. But The Royal College of Midwives disagrees with the suggestion, which it fears may risk the health of mother and baby.

A recent British study found that obese mothers are 10 times more likely to have a daughter who is obese, and very overweight fathers are six times more likely to have a very overweight son.

There is no such correlation between overweight fathers and daughters, or mothers and sons, suggesting that the link is behavioural. Children mirror the eating patterns of their same-gender parent.

Tam Fry, a trustee of the National Obesity Forum, told the Telegraph, “Parents are stuffing food into their children. The portion sizes are too large, they are insisting the children finish what’s on the plate and much of the food being eaten has high levels of fat, sugar and salt.

“I know some people will think this goes too far down the road of the nanny state, but I think if you tell people that their own habits can put their future children at risk they just might listen.”

Janet Fylde, policy adviser to The Royal College of Midwives, said pregnant women had enough to worry about without being made to feel guilty about their lifestyle.

“If you say to a woman that you want to weigh her and her partner, to see if they are likely to have fat children, you are putting your whole relationship with them in jeopardy,” she said. “You are also increasing the risk of women going on diets when they are pregnant, which could harm the baby.”

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