HealthyWomen: cycle of obesity can stop with mom's influence
Growing up in Texas where we ate on platters instead of plates, obesity was prevalent all around. In fact, BOTH my parents had gastric bypass surgery within the last five years – they are thinner now, but it wasn’t without risk and pain.
I was lucky and learned early about how healthy eating and exercise could keep my weight manageable, but it pains me to see children affected by their parent’s unhealthy habits.
HealthyWomen’s study on obesity
HealthyWomen, the nation's leading nonprofit health information source for women, recently published a survey that sheds light on how obesity now can affect future generations. The study was conducted to assess women’s understanding of the impact of obesity— particularly in terms of influence between women and their children, other family members and friends.
Although the majority of women surveyed seem to understand there is parental influence on obesity, they do not recognize their role in the “cycle of obesity.”
Key findings of the obesity study
- The majority of women believe a parent’s obesity has an influence on a child’s risk of becoming obese (87%), yet only one-quarter (28%) of women surveyed assign the responsibility to themselves.
- Most women don’t seem to recognize how early a mother’s obesity can impact her child’s risk of becoming obese. Only one in ten (11%) women surveyed recognizes that a mother’s obesity in her first trimester of pregnancy more than doubles her child’s risk of becoming obese.
- More than half of women surveyed were either unsure of the impact of a mother’s obesity in her first trimester (46%) or believed there was no impact (11%) on her child’s risk for obesity.
- Women surveyed understand the role that familial obesity has on their risk for becoming obese, but they underestimate the influence of friends and others. In fact, studies show that a person has a much greater chance (57%) of becoming obese if he or she had a friend who became obese than if he/she had a sibling (40%) or spouse (37%) who became obese.
Making smart decisions about obesity
Best-selling author and chief medical correspondent for Discovery Health TV Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, FACP, says the survey findings bring new light to prior conceptions and emphasize the importance of personal responsibility.
“Battling obesity is a matter of making smart decisions,” she says. “In understanding the significance that our relationships can have on our lifestyle choices, we see an opportunity for women to play supportive roles in weight loss and best living practices.”
Take heart moms, this is a problem with proven solutions and many resources. HealthyWomen has created an online resource center with tips and tools specific to the WomenTALK survey including BMI and target heart rate calculators, family-friendly recipes and exercise videos at HealthyWomen.org/womenTALK.
In addition to educational content, the site features advice from Dr. Peeke and motivational articles including a personal perspective from boxer Muhammad Ali’s daughter and obesity advocate Khaliah Ali.
Just think, if all moms unite around obesity, our power to change generations to come is unstoppable.
Disclosure: Michelle received information from HealthyWomen.org to facilitate this post. Mom Central Consulting and HealthyWomen are strategic partners bringing quality health information to women and moms.