Obese From the Womb? The Shocking New Trend in America’s Weight Epidemic
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In the state of New York, 15 percent of women experience either late initiation to prenatal care or do not get any at all. In New Mexico, the number of women who get late initiation to prenatal care or none whatever is 39.9 percent. This makes it nearly impossible for new mothers to know which decisions are the best ones.
There are several different views on how to combat obesity that may start in the womb, but many researchers and writers agree upon a few key points. Eating a high-protein, lowfat diet during pregnancy has been shown to result in a lower risk of obesity in the child. Good sources of protein include almonds, salmon, chicken or turkey breasts and lentils. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are encouraged and processed foods are not recommended. During pregnancy, a woman may need only 300 calories more than normal in order to have adequate nutrition for the fetus (forget the whole "eating for two" theory).
But what if you can't get access to either sound advice or healthy food?
Obesity prevalence in low-income communities is growing twice as fast as obesity prevalence in high-income communities. A study performed at Simmons College in Massachusetts has shown that children born to obese mothers with low incomes have a 34 percent increased risk of becoming obese themselves. Genetics alone doesn't explain this: the higher risk is thought to stem partly from the food choices available to low-income families.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet for some is more time consuming than getting fast food or ready meals, and research has shown that the only places to find fresh produce and healthy food options in low-income communities are in grocery stores, which are scarce. One study shows that there are half the number of chain grocery stores in predominantly black communities compared to predominantly white communities, while Hispanic communities have only one-third of the number of grocery stores in close proximity. Three studies found a reduced risk of obesity in areas with more supermarkets, while two studies found a link between easy access to convenience stores and an increased risk of obesity. The lack of access makes it hard for mothers in these areas to eat healthfully.
Obesity that starts before birth is a scary thought. As Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics states, “we can no longer judge obesity as a disease for gluttons and sloths” or some type of unfortunate failure or lack of self constraint. The causes of obesity are complex, and often begin before a person has the ability to make choices.