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Weight gain after birth could be inherited
Most pregnant women don't retain the extra pounds, but some gain kilos
Women with obese mothers are more likely to gain weight after childbirth, according to a new study.

The research shows that the majority of women do not gain weight following childbirth.

But a small minority who do are more likely to have overweight mothers and/or a negative body image.

One in six put on more than 5 kilos in weight, while some gained as much as 17.7 kilos.

Thirteen per cent found themselves in the obese or overweight category after giving birth.

The researchers, led by Helen Hunt of the University of Greenwich, say there may be some genetic reason why women with overweight mothers gain weight, but it may also be due to inherited lifestyles.

"It is possible that offspring 'inherit' lifestyles that predispose them to gain weight by adopting similar earting habits and exercise patterns to those of their parents," they say.

The fact that the body image of the women's fathers appears to have no impact further suggests that lifestyle rather than genes influences weight gain.

Silhouette

The researchers studied 74 South London women from the beginning of their pregnancy to two and a half years after they had given birth.

The women had to pick out a silhouette which best represented their mother.

Women who were more likely to gain weight after the birth tended to select bigger silhouettes.

The researchers looked at a series of factors which could influence weight gain, including smoking, depression, lack of social support networks and stress.

They found that, when all these factors were taken out of the equation, women with overweight mothers and those who were depressed about their body image after birth were more likely to pile on the pounds.

Previous research has shown a link between depression, reduced self esteem and weight gain.

Eating for two

The study, which is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that increased food intake was the main reason for increased weight rather than a lack of exercise.

More than a fifth of the women said they were eating more after the birth than before.

They put on an average of 2.9 kilos more than mothers who did not increase their intake.

The researchers speculated that this could be because they were more likely to be at home where food was more accessible.

See also:

15 Jan 99 | Health
22 Jan 99 | Health
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