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Nancy Wurtzel

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Obesity Epidemic: Is Your Mother to Blame?

Posted: 02/16/2012 12:15 pm

Oh, I feel so much better. I just found out the being overweight isn't my fault at all -- my Mom is to blame. It's such a relief to know that the pie, cookies, chocolate and draft beer that I consumed, or my lack of exercise isn't the real reason for my ever-expanding stretch pants.

Nope. According to an article written by Shari Roan in The Los Angeles Times the blame sits squarely on the shoulders of my 91-year-old mother who evidently made very bad choices when I was in utero.

The article focuses on Melinda Sothern, a leading fitness and nutrition expert, who theorizes that while the obesity epidemic has many causes, it can actually start in the womb. Her research spotlights the child-bearing women of the 1950s who smoked, didn't breast feed and had closely-spaced pregnancies -- during which they restricted their weight.

Sothern calls her theory "the obesity trinity." Here's the lowdown:

Smoking: It's difficult to fathom now, but it wasn't at all unusual for women to smoke during their pregnancies -- my Mom certainly did. We now know that nicotine disrupts a person's metabolic rate, appetite and fat storage, thereby setting up a weight-gain pattern that the baby will experience later in life.

Breast Feeding: Formula was in and breast-feeding was out for much of the baby boomer years. However, more recent studies have shown that formula-fed infants will consume more because they don't have to work for it and they will eat until the bottle is empty. Fat babies often grow into adults with weight issues and overweight women tend to have large babies. It's a bad cycle.

Pregnancy Weight Gain: Pregnant women during the 1950s were routinely told by their doctors to restrict their weight gain. During their pregnancies, they may have actually suffered from inadequate nutrition (and been smoking up a storm -- Betty Draper, anyone?). As a result, their babies -- born small -- may have been predisposed to play catch up on their growth during infancy and throughout childhood.

In a nutshell that is "the obesity trinity."

So now that I have someone to blame, I can sleep easier. And, tomorrow, when I eat a piece of double-layer spice cake with cream cheese frosting (just for example), I will curse my mother. She smoked like a fiend, fasted when pregnant with me and probably force-fed me formula from a bottle.

It's her fault and I think she owes me a new pair of stretch pants.

 

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