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Mum’s the Word on Rising Obesity Rates

News | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

23 Apr 2014 12:48 PM

Newborn

Mothers are the leading contributors to Australia’s weight gain, according to a report recently released by Obesity Australia.

The report, No Time to Weight provides evidence that mums who feed their children a high carbohydrate, high sugar diet within the first three years of life are the chief cause of weight gain across Australia. 

It also found that 90 per cent of the population has a gene predisposing them to weight gain, further emphasising the importance of setting up healthy habits early in life.

Teaching Children Good Eating Habits

Obesity Australia chief Professor John Funder believes that, as with smoking and drinking, pregnant mothers must be warned about the dangers of being overweight and eating poorly while pregnant.

If the mother feeds her child an unhealthy diet in its first three years of life the person will prefer those weight producing foods as an adult, the research shows.

“The first four years of life (including pregnancy) are crucial in combating obesity because they define the set-points for hunger and satiety in a child for its entire life,” says Professor John Funder.

“If a woman is obese, diabetic, or consumes a diet too high in calories during pregnancy, the tendency towards obesity persists in the offspring,” the report says.

The report recommends mothers breastfeed their children for the first six months and then feed their babies vegetable and meat mush rather than high-carb baby meals such as rice cereal.

Obesity as a Disease

However, the aim of the report was not to cast blame, but to discover ways that parents can help their children grow up healthier.

To this end, Obesity Australia is calling for the Australian Medical Association and the Australian government to recognise obesity as a disease, following the steps taken by the US government in June 2013. 

Furthermore, Obesity Australia is calling on Health Minister Peter Dutton to honour his election promise to increase the number of public bariatric surgeries.

This type of surgery can reduce body weight by between 50 and 75 per cent in the very obese and turn back diabetes.

Obesity Australia says only 1000 bariatric surgeries were funded by public hospitals last year and it wants the Federal Government to spend $3 million to increase that to 2500 a year in the next two years and build support clinics for those who have the surgery.

Image credit: David J Laporte