Babies whose mothers suffer from lack of proper nutrition while pregnant may be more likely to become obese in later life, researchers have found.
A team from the University of Amsterdam looked at a group of 741 men and women who were conceived during the Dutch famine of 1944-1945 which followed the Nazi occupation.
They found that the rate of obesity among the women, who were aged 50 when the study took place, was higher than in the general population. Many of these women had increased amounts of body fat in the abdominal area.This particular depostion of fat is associated with "metabolic syndrome" which is also linked to high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Women whose mothers were exposed to the famine early in their pregnancies were especially prone to later obesity. Researchers believe the increased levels of obesity are likely to be due to a change in the way the body deals with accumulated fat, probably triggered by nutritional deprivation before birth.