UPBEAT: body fat in UPBEAT babies

Professor Lucilla Poston, Dr Annette Briley, Dr Dharmintra Pasupathy, Dr Nashita Patel, Mr Paul Seed, Angela Flynn, Dr Sara White, Claire Singh MSc, the UPBEAT Consortium

Tommy's researchers have helped show that changing the lifestyle of obese mothers during pregnancy could have long term health benefits for their babies.

Around 27% of children in the UK are overweight or obese. We wanted to find out if the changes that UPBEAT mothers made to their diets and lifestyles during pregnancy meant their babies had less body fat. We also wanted to see if mothers continued their healthier lifestyles 6 months after giving birth.

Researchers supported by Tommy’s found that 6 months after birth, mothers who started eating healthier diets during pregnancy were still eating foods with a lower glycaemic index (GI) and less saturated fat. At 6 months old, babies from this group of women also had less body fat. This was in comparison to women in the 'control' group who made no change to their diets during pregnancy.

This study is the first evidence that changing the way obese pregnant women eat and exercise during pregnancy could mean long term health benefits for their babies – we can already see that babies have healthier bodies at 6 months old.

The UPBEAT TEMPO study is now looking at 3 year olds of UPBEAT mothers, to see how their bodies are made up, as well as what they eat and how much exercise they do. This will help us discover if changes during pregnancy can affect the chances of childhood obesity. If UPBEAT has led to fewer children becoming obese, this would be a huge step forward – we could help prevent obesity while the baby is still in the womb. 

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This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by Tommy's, the National Institute of Health Research, Chief Scientist Office Scotland, Guys and St. Thomas’ Charity, the Medical Research Council, Guys and St Thomas’ Biomedical Research Centre, EU EarlyNutrition 

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