Bigger babies at risk of weight issues in later life, research shows

Bigger babies at risk of weight issues in later life, research shows
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A new study shows babies who are much heavier than average when they are born are at a greater risk of facing weight problems later in life.

The research - involving the University of Auckland-based Liggins Institute and Uppsala University in Sweden - shows women who were born heavy, are on average nearly 4kg heavier by their mid-twenties.

They are also 50 percent more likely to become obese.

The research provides evidence that being born much heavier than average, known as 'large for gestational age' or LGA, puts you at greater risk of developing obesity in adult life, regardless of length and body proportion at birth.

The researchers studied data from 20,000 Swedish women who had their birth weight and length recorded in the Swedish Birth Register and who were later assessed when they became pregnant at the average age of 26 years.

The heightened obesity risk was not found in women who were born longer than average but of normal weight.

Lead investigator Dr José Derraik said one in four pregnant women in New Zealand is affected by obesity and their babies are more likely to be heavy.

But Dr Derraik said people who were born heavier should not panic.

"Being at risk for something doesn't mean you'll get it. As with many conditions, once we're aware of the risks we can offset them with a healthier diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep," he said in a statement.

He said addressing the obesity issue and promoting healthier lifestyle choices would reduce the numbers of babies born heavy and lessen their risk of developing obesity later in life.