A recent study has shown that obese women who undergo bariatric surgery prior to pregnancy actually have thinner children than women who don’t. This suggests that weight loss surgery can actually break the cycle of obesity in families.
Statistics show that obese women are more likely to have children who also end up obese, and perpetuate the cycle by having obese children themselves. If something can break this cycle in the future, it could pave the way for a thinner US, where currently one third of adults are obese, and over half are overweight.
The Difference Between Children Born Pre- and Post-Weight Loss Surgery
Interestingly, children born prior to a woman’s weight loss surgery are more likely to end up obese than siblings born after the surgery, suggesting it is more than just a lifestyle change in the family which may have occurred due to the mother’s changed eating habits. This suggests very strongly that the intrauterine environment is more important in predicting future obesity than genes or the environment in which the child is raised.
Results from this study will be published in the November 2009 issue of Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Obesity is still on the rise in the United States and other Westernized nations, and it can lead to a whole host of health conditions including insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and complications in pregnancy. This study confirms what other studies have suggested, that the intrauterine environment is one of the primary factors leading to future obesity. For this reason, weight loss surgery prior to a woman becoming pregnant might be an investment in the health and life of any future offspring.
While this particular study focused on women who underwent a form of bariatric surgery known as biliopancreatic diversion (which works by making the stomach smaller and getting food to bypass part of the small intestine, resulting in absorption of fewer calories), it is highly likely that other forms of bariatric surgery for weight loss will work equally as effectively.
Details of the Study
The study followed 49 women, each of whom had children before and after their weight loss surgeries. The researchers found that children born after the weight loss surgery had a lower birth weight and waist circumference and were three times less likely to become obese than their older siblings. These younger siblings had improved cardiovascular markers, reduced insulin resistance and lower cholesterol.
This study provides a good reason for obese women to undergo bariatric surgery prior to becoming pregnant. Not only are they improving their own futures by reducing their weight, but they are also improving the futures of their potential children. Even if children born to obese mothers are raised with better eating and exercising habits, they are still more likely to be obese in the future than children born to mothers with a healthy weight. This is a frightening statistic, but it’s reassuring to know that it doesn’t have to be this way.