MUMS-to-be have been warned to keep track of their diet during pregnancy.
Researchers in the US found that those who consumed ‘ultra-processed foods’ were more likely to have children that are obese.
This, the experts said, was irrespective of other lifestyle risk factors they might have.
Ultra-processed foods refers to meals and snacks such as ice creams, biscuits, fizzy drinks, crisps and even instant soups.
Writing in the BMJ, the experts looked at data for over 200,000 mothers and their children.
Participants logged what they ate and drank, through a health questionnaire and the offspring were also monitored.
Medics also looked at a range of other potentially influential factors, known to be strongly correlated with childhood obesity.
It also included children’s ultra-processed food consumption, physical activity, and sedentary time.
Overall, 2,471 (12 per cent) children developed overweight or obesity during an average follow-up period of four years.
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The results of the paper revealed that these foods were linked to an increased risk of overweight or obesity in offspring.
A 26 per cent higher risk was seen in the group with the highest maternal ultra-processed food consumption.
High consumption was at 12.1 servings a day versus the lowest consumption group, which was at 3.4 servings a day.
The researchers noted that this is an observational study and that there may be issues with the self reporting of food.
They added that the data set ‘supports the importance of refining dietary recommendations and the development of programs to improve nutrition for women of reproductive age to promote offspring health’.
Dr Duane Mellor, Registered Dietitian and Senior Teaching Fellow, Aston Medical School, Aston University said the study doesn’t provide evidence of causality.
“It is also important to note, that maternal food intake at other times in the child’s life was not included in the analysis and at no point was the food intake of the other parent considered (only their income).
“Although this does not change the important public health messages for families to all eat a healthy and varied diet, based on vegetables, fruits, pulses, seeds and wholegrain with moderate amounts of meat (or alternatives) and dairy.
“It does not show any more than an association between intake of maternal intake ultra processed foods around pregnancy and child weight gain and more detail of the shared family diet is needed to see if it is an effect of diet during the time around pregnancy or the family diet in general which is most important with respect to healthy weight gain and growth.”