BOSTON (CBS) – “How early should obesity prevention start?” That’s the name of a new article in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Diane Stern spoke with a Harvard researcher about the importance of early obesity prevention.

Dr. Matt Gillman, director of the Obesity Prevention Program at the Department of Population Medicine Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute discussed crucial time periods to reduce the risk factors that lead to obesity.

“Our organs and systems are being set in the first 9 months after conception and during the first couple years of life,” Gillman told WBZ-TV’s NewsRadio 1030. “We feel that those are very important periods in which to prevent obesity.”

Gillman addresses mothers, whose decisions before and after pregnancy can affect their child’s weight.

“There are so many changes going on during [pregnancy] that set our physiology and trajectories of behavior for a lifetime,” Gillman said. “Fortunately, mothers are really willing to change their behavior during pregnancy.”

Several behaviors to avoid during pregnancy including smoking, excessive weight gain, and developing gestational diabetes, according to Gillman. During infancy, consuming solid foods within the first four months as well as poor sleep are risk factors that can lead to obesity in the child.

“We know that if you take these risk factors before and after birth, and you add them up, the more risk factors you have, the bigger the chance that the child will grow up obese,” Gillman said.

Gillman further explains that obesity in females can lead to a cycle in which they pass on to their daughters, who will in turn, pass it on to their daughters through pregnancy.


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