Baby Development

Skipping These 2 Foods During Pregnancy Could Increase the Risk of Childhood Obesity

While they might not be considered THE top health foods, a new study by the University of Southern Queensland has found that children born to mothers who don’t eat fish or eggs during their pregnancy face an increased risk of childhood obesity.

Two simple foods could increase the risk of childhood obesity

Analysing the data of more than 5,000 children over the age of 15 years, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is the first study of its kind to examine the potential consequences of removing certain food groups from a pregnant mother’s diet.

“Our findings suggest that promoting a pregnancy diet that includes fish and eggs may be useful for preventing childhood obesity,” says Brenton Horne, a PhD student.

Brenton Horne led the study and suggested that one explanation could be that both fish and eggs are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which could reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity. However, he agreed, more research is needed.

The research team at the University discovered that using supplements during pregnancy, such as iron and folate (also known as folic acid or Vitamin B9), did not appear to lower the risk of weight gain and obesity in children of mothers who excluded fish and meat from their diets. Consequently, researchers advise that expectant mothers should not depend solely on supplements as substitutes for these foods in preventing childhood obesity.

“Expectant mothers are generally aware that sticking to a healthy diet and eating a variety of nutritious foods will help their baby grow strong and healthy, but I hope that these results will bring to light the potential risks of excluding certain foods from a maternal diet.”

It is suggested that until further research is done, stick to the Australian Government’s nutritional advice for pregnant women and try to include fish and eggs in your diet where possible.

what to eat to reduce childhood obesity
Fish and eggs are full of omega-3s and protein. Source: Bigstock

What you should eat and what to avoid when pregnant

Eating well will help support both you and your baby when you are pregnant. We have the low-down on what you can eat and what you should avoid when you’re up the duff.

5 tips to eat well during your pregnancy:

  1. Eat more veggies, lean protein and whole grains to support growing your baby
  2. Eat the rainbow! Stack your plate with plenty of different colour fruit and veggies
  3. Make healthy food swaps such as ice cream for yoghurt or soft drinks for sparkling water
  4. Try baking and grilling food rather than frying it in oil
  5. Keep a healthy diet with regular meals, even when feeling nauseous or sick

Foods to avoid or limit during pregnancy:

  • Deli meats, soft cheeses, pate and soft-serve ice cream
  • Smoked salmon, uncooked seafood, precooked prawns and sushi, as they may contain listeria*
  • Alcohol
  • Raw or undercooked eggs as it can cause salmonella*
  • Raw or undercooked meats as they can give you an infection known as toxoplasmosis*
  • Large fish, such as sharks, marlins and swordfish, may contain mercury. Smaller fish are fine.
  • Limit caffeine – coffee to one to two cups daily or four cups of tea daily. Avoid double-shot espresso and caffeinated energy drinks
  • Limit high-fat and sugary foods and drinks

If you feel so unwell you cannot eat, please seek advice from your doctor or medical professional.

*Although rare, listeria, salmonella and toxoplasmosis can cause severe complications during pregnancy.

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Avatar of Kylie Baracz

As a busy writer and mama of two little wildlings, Kylie knows what it's like to juggle All The Things. When she's not politely ushering out small children from her Zoom calls, her favourite place is snuggled on the couch with her family and a (probably lukewarm!) cuppa.

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