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Pregnancy-Related Risk Factors for Childhood Obesity
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Educators       Providers         Parents


It is widely accepted that early childhood is a critical period that can set the trajectory of weight and metabolic health for the rest of a child’s lifetime – but a growing body of research is looking even further back in time for predictors of overweight and obesity. Studies examining prenatal and pre-pregnancy conditions as risk factors for overweight and obesity in offspring provide insight into the ways in which maternal health may impact infant health, and subsequently the health conditions of that infant later in life.
Maternal health conditions prior to pregnancy may already influence the health of her future children. A large meta-analysis found that higher maternal pre-pregnancy BMI was associated with higher risks of childhood overweight/obesity in early-, mid-, and late childhood, as shown in the figure below.  

 Source: Table adapted from Voerman et al., 2019

During pregnancy, maternal obesity is associated with a number of adverse outcomes for the fetus and newborn. It has been linked to macrosomia, which increases the risk of difficult labor and delivery, neonatal hypoglycemia, and obesity and metabolic syndrome later in life. Gestational diabetes mellitus is also commonly associated with neonatal hypoglycemia. Maternal obesity is associated with epigenetic effects on the offspring, indicating that these risk factors function at a molecular level. A large retrospective cohort study revealed that among low-income children, the relative risk of childhood obesity at 3 years of age was 2.3 times greater when the mother had obesity in the first trimester of pregnancy, compared to mothers whose weight was in the healthy range.
Maternal lifestyle practices during pregnancy have also been linked to the risk of offspring obesity. A large prospective cohort study found that at five years of follow-up, the incidence of obesity was lower among offspring whose mothers engaged in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous physical activities, abstained from smoking, and consumed alcohol in moderation, compared with the rest of the cohort
Many studies have examined the phenomenon of gestational weight gain as a determinant of offspring health. Gestational weight gain (GWG) is defined as “a change in maternal weights measured before pregnancy and prior to delivery.” GWG is crucial for the growth and development of the fetus, and both excessive and inadequate GWG can adversely affect maternal and infant outcomes. One study found that independent of parental BMI, mothers with greater GWG had children with increased skinfolds and BMI at 3 years of age. Excessive GWG was associated with a 32% greater risk of overweight compared to inadequate or adequate GWG. A healthful diet and greater physical activity during pregnancy are each associated with optimal GWG
It is also important to note that the average age at which pregnancy occurs is young adulthood – an age group that accounts for 50% of adult obesity. The prevalence of obesity among young adults of age 18 through 25 years in the US has increased significantly over the past few decades. Young adulthood is a key period for preventing and treating obesity because of its important potential impact on the health of mothers and their children.
As we make progress in obesity research and treatment, the fundamental question of how we can prevent obesity in young adults remains. Successful prevention of obesity in parents could have a double benefit of preventing obesity in their children. Innovative approaches are essential to achieving this goal. For example, weight loss in parents that accompanies weight loss interventions in children could become an approved billable outcome by health plans.


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Upcoming Events

Apr 27-May 1: Obesity Medicine 2022
Apr 28: AICR Symposium
Jun 9: International NASH Day
Jun 14-16: Nutrition 2022 Live Online

National Nutrition Month® 2022
OMA Launches New Journal
Abstract Submission for ObesityWeek 2022 is Now Open
New Studies by WW
International NASH Day Accepting Applications for Partners

National Nutrition Month® 2022

With the theme Celebrate a World of Flavors, National Nutrition Month® 2022 focused on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ continued commitment to embracing global cultures and cuisines, and to leading initiatives that improve the nutritional status of people from around the world from diverse backgrounds. National Nutrition Month focused on four key messages: eat a variety of nutritious foods; see a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist; plan your meals and snacks; and create tasty foods at home.

On the policy front, the Academy represented the nutrition and dietetics profession during National Obesity Care Week, attending virtual Capitol Hill meetings to discuss the importance of the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, and shared social media messages for advocates to use on their channels.

During National Consumer Protection Week, the Academy shared social media messaging advocating for qualified providers who have earned the RDN credential in providing consumers with nutrition care services. Throughout March, the Academy organized meetings with key congressional targets for the MNT Act, which would provide access to RDNs’ services for Medicare beneficiaries with obesity and many other chronic diseases.

Learn more here.
Registration Now Open for NUTRITION 2022
NUTRITION 2022 is now a year-round learning experience, featuring our annual flagship meeting plus ongoing professional development events. On June 14-16, immerse yourself in NUTRITION 2022 LIVE ONLINE, a 2.5 day virtual event that will explore the latest developments in nutrition science, clinical topics, and the most pressing policy issues. This virtual event will offer great content in the form of lectures, scientific sessions, satellite programs, virtual abstract presentations, and more!

Then all throughout the year, take smaller breaks in your day for micro-burst sessions delivered in various formats to complement different learning styles. Registrants can pick and choose what they want or opt in for our All Access Pass.

Learn more and register here.
Obesity Medicine Association Launches New Journal
Obesity Pillars is OMA's new open-access online-only journal dedicated to the publication of clinical and evidence-based research for physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other health care clinicians in the field of obesity medicine. The first issue of Obesity Pillars is now available to read online.

Read the first issue here.
Register for the Obesity Medicine 2022 Conference
Earn up to 30 CME/CE during the Obesity Medicine 2022 Conference in Atlanta, April 27-May 1, to gain treatment techniques that will help prepare you to treat obesity at the root and to manage your patients’ obesity-related conditions. The spring conference includes the Spring Obesity Summit as well as the following pre-conference course options:
  • Review Course for the ABOM Exam
  • Fundamentals of Obesity Treatment
Learn more and register here.

 Save the Date: ObesityWeek® 2022 

It’s never too early to mark the next date of ObesityWeek® on your calendar. ObesityWeek® 2022 will take place in a hybrid format Nov. 1-4, in San Diego, California.

Learn more about the San Diego conference and future ObesityWeeks® here.
TOS Abstract Submission for ObesityWeek® 2022 Is Now Open!
The abstract submission site for the 40th Annual Meeting of The Obesity Society at ObesityWeek® 2022 is now open! Don't miss this chance to present research on basic science, prevention and treatment at TOS's Annual Meeting, Nov.1-4. The submission site will remain open until 11:59 p.m. ET on April 18, 2022

Submit your abstract to one of the following tracks:

Track 1: Metabolism and Integrative Physiology
Track 2: Neuroscience
Track 3: Intervention and Clinical Studies
Track 4: Population Health
Track 6: Health Care Policy/Public Health Policy

Notification of acceptance will be emailed mid-July from

PEOPLE FIRST LANGUAGE: TOS requests that all presenters use people-first language in all presentations, handouts, posters and during all sessions. For more information please visit CDC.

Read the abstract submission instructions here.
American Insitute for Cancer Research - Upcoming Symposium
The American Institute for Cancer Research’s (AICR) Lifestyle & Cancer Symposium – Innovation to Impact on April 28th, 2022 will feature internationally renowned clinicians, scientists, researchers, and health professionals presenting and discussing the latest evidence and perspectives on issues at the intersection of diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer risk and survivorship. This year’s symposium will take place virtually.  AICR has been at the forefront of funding, analyzing and advocating for research into how lifestyle factors such as diet, obesity and physical activity impact cancer risk and survivorship for the past four decades. 

Learn more and register here.
Two New Studies by WW
WW has had two new studies recently published. The first study is titled Qualitative inquiry with primary care providers and specialists about adult weight management care and referrals. This study conducted telephone interviews with primary care and specialist providers before the COVID-19 pandemic to evaluate their perspective on weight management in clinical settings and referrals to community weight management programs. Read the full study here.

The second study is titled In their own words: Topic analysis of the motivations and strategies of over 6,000 long-term weight-loss maintainers. This study used an innovative topic modeling approach to evaluate open-ended survey responses from 6,139 WW success registry members. Members reported the factors that contributed to their success and the most important things that changed with their weight loss. Read the full study here.
Global Liver Institute Announces the Fifth Annual International NASH Day on June 9
Global Liver Institute (GLI) will convene the fifth International NASH Day (#NASHday) on June 9, 2022 with the theme Stop NASH Now. This year, GLI is pleased to support grassroots efforts from around the globe that will raise awareness and promote diagnosis and care options in ways as unique as each community. Held annually on the second Thursday in June, #NASHDay exists to increase awareness about nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) among at-risk patients, medical professionals, and the global public health community. 

Learn more about International NASH Day here.


GLI has opened applications from non-profit organizations to become 2022 #NASHDay partners and Stop NASH NOW through local outreach or participation in virtual program options. Among a number of benefits, partners will be provided with multilingual NAFLD/NASH educational materials that they may use, and a limited number may receive program-support grants. 

Learn more about partner benefits and requirements here, and submit your application here by April 15, 2022.
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