With the obesity epidemic raging in the United States, there are plenty of people who worry about having a fat baby. Way more than those who worry about having a phat baby (to be blunt). That’s because the former is connected to a lifetime of weight struggles, while the later is only connected to a lifetime of being def.
Unfortunately, a decade of studies has linked a mother’s prenatal nutrition to the child’s future weight issues. That means the fight against obesity begins in the womb. Sadly, even Jillian Michaels can’t help. She’d have to be way, like, way smaller to get in there.
READ MORE: The Fatherly Guide to Genetics
It’s been well established that mothers who gain excessive weight during pregnancy have larger babies, and that those babies go on to struggle with obesity in childhood. But a 2016 study by Kaiser Permanente, which followed 24,000 moms and their kids for 10 years, found that the same effects can even be seen by age 2 in babies with a normal birth weight. Though, to be fair, those toddlers were way easier to catch.
The Kaiser researcher’s hypothesis for the skinny infant / obese toddler phenomenon is linked to elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Those levels might actually change the baby’s metabolism for the worse. And while researchers were unsure of what could be at the root of the metabolic change, the fact that junk food tastes awesome even in utero seems like a glaring possibility.
It seems strange that that could be the case with diet soda, however, because everyone knows it’s awful. Still, a Canadian study published in the Spring of 2016 found a link between mothers who drank diet soda (or used artificial sweeteners) during pregnancy and increased deviation in a kids BMI, towards fatness, later in life. That’s something found in animal studies as well … sweet …
You’re Not Off The Hook
Before you start slipping Weight Watchers pamphlets into your partner’s underwear drawer (subtle, bro), know that genes controlling weight come from your side too. In fact, one study found that being overweight can change the DNA in sperm in ways that could affect the way your child regulates their weight. So you might want to casually leave that Jenny Craig pamphlet on your own damn dashboard.
More than that, you and your partner’s weight and nutritional habits will be the standard on which your growing kid will set their future expectations. Building good habits before and during pregnancy will only set you up to continue them after the kid arrives. Which will be incredibly helpful for everyone, except the Hamburgler. But maybe he’ll finally be able to turn away from his life of crime.
What You Can Do About It
This is no doubt a crazy difficult conversation. Particularly if you are concerned about your partner’s weight. Being present at prenatal doctors appointments can help you be a part of weighty conversations. And you can always lead by example. Aim for healthy meals in. Offer to prepare them. Don’t bring in temptations and tell her you’d like her to help you get your fat ass in gear.
Speaking of gear. Buy some fly workout gear before the baby arrives. It almost guarantees the kid will emerge phat, rather than fat. And you don’t need “science” to prove that.
Want tips, tricks, and advice that you’ll actually use? Click here to sign up for our email.