A mother's weight and the amount she gains during pregnancy both impact her daughter's risk of obesity decades later, according to a new study by Alison Stuebe, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
"The findings are especially important because of the growing epidemic of obesity in women," Stuebe says. "If we can help women reach a healthy weight before they start a family, we can make a difference for two generations."
Stuebe analyzed data on mothers' recalled weights and weight gain for more than 24,000 mother-daughter pairs. The heavier a mother was before her pregnancy, the more likely her daughter was to be obese in later life. For instance, an average-height mother who weighed 150 pounds before pregnancy was twice as likely to have a daughter who was obese at age 18 as a mother who weighed 125 pounds before pregnancy.