EATING a Mediterranean diet while pregnant could reduce the risk of your child being obese, new data suggests.
Weight gain in youngsters might be due to what their mum ate as they grew in the womb, US scientists think.
And eating more fruit, vegetables and oils could help curb any flab battles for them in the future.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests it could have a long-term impact on children’s weight battles.
Children who are overweight -with a BMI above 24.9 – have an increased risk of asthma, type 2 diabetes and orthopaedic disorders.
The UK has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, with 22 per cent of children classified as overweight or obese by the time they start school.
Data from 1,459 mothers and children, collected by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, was analysed by researchers.
Lead author Dr Carmen Monthé-Drèze at Harvard University said: "The results suggest maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have a long-term impact on children's weight trajectories, and that there are specific developmental periods when nutrition during pregnancy may influence offspring growth.
"For example, we found that a pregnancy diet with higher inflammatory potential was associated with faster BMI growth rates in children between three and ten years of age.
"We also found that lower adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy was associated with higher BMI trajectories through adolescence."
THEY ARE WHAT YOU EAT
Women should be made aware of how important a healthy diet is during her pregnancy, the researchers say.
Dr Monthé-Drèze said: "It is important to counsel women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant on the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy.
"In particular, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consider a Mediterranean diet, which may not only benefit their own health, but may also help their child maintain a healthy weight.
"Research has shown that the foods that we eat during pregnancy may influence the metabolism of the growing child as well as their eating behaviours and food preferences.
"Additionally, the food choices women make during pregnancy are likely to be similar to food choices they offer their children. Therefore, it is conceivable that maternal nutrition during pregnancy may be related to long-term weight issues in the offspring.
"Additional research is therefore needed to better understand the relationship between maternal diet in pregnancy and child BMI and weight gain patterns."
A Mediterranean-style diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, low-mercury fish, and good quality oils such as extra virgin olive oil.
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