London: Educating new mothers about healthy eating and active play can help cut the risk of their child being overweight or obese, a new study has revealed.
Childhood obesity is a serious health challenge affecting more than 43 million preschool children worldwide (6.7percent) with studies showing it could have adverse effects on later health.
Preschool children who are obese or overweight have a high chance of carrying this into adulthood and it has been argued that efforts to prevent this should start earlier in life.
Methods of feeding children, when they start eating solids and the amount of television watched are the most common factors that contribute to childhood obesity, especially in lower socio-economic groups.
Authors from the South Western Sydney and Sydney Local Health Districts and Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney in Australia looked at 667 first-time mothers and their infants.
They looked at the children`s BMI, feeding habits and television viewing time. This is the first study of its kind to look at outcomes at two years old.
Nurses taught mothers healthy eating and exercise habits for their children.
Mothers in the intervention group were also significantly more likely to eat more than two servings of vegetables per day (52 percent compared with 36 percent) and spend 150 minutes or more exercising per week (48 percent compared with 38 percent).
This study has found that the first few years of a child`s development are crucial in setting the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour and health outcomes.
The authors conclude that the results are very encouraging but that the cost-effectiveness does require further investigation.
The study shows that the early onset of childhood overweight and obesity requires “health promotion programmes to start as early as possible” and that they should be family focused and can be effective in improving children`s weight status.
The study was published in bmj.com.