UT Knoxville & Kaiser Permanente-Led Research Shows Sugar Consumption During Pregnancy Leads to Obesity

May 25, 2019 | Child Obesity, Glucose, Obesity, Pregnancy, Sugar

Sugar will soon become the new smoking.  An avalanche of observational study data must be making the sugar growers pause to consider their future options. The U.S. faces an obesity epidemic and when factoring in comorbidities (e.g. arthritis, cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes, etc.), the backlash to sugar a culprit is real and coming more palpable.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville partnered with Kaiser Permanente Northern California to study the outcomes of high sugar intake for children of pregnant women. Apparently, the children of women who have high glucose blood levels during pregnancy (even if their mothers are not diagnosed with gestational diabetes) are at an increased risk of development obesity in childhood, according to a study published in PLOS One.

The Study

The researchers analyzed the data of more than 40,000 pregnant women who delivered babies between 1005 and 2004 in the Kaiser Permanente health care system. They are considered the data of the children, whom they followed until 5 to 7 years old.

In the United States, pregnant women get a blood glucose screening test between weeks 24 and 28. If the test shows elevated blood glucose levels, an additional test is then done to determine whether the woman has gestational diabetes mellitus, or GDM.

However, Ehrlich and team found that once elevated levels of blood glucose are found on the screening test, even if the blood glucose is not elevated enough for a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, the children are at higher risk of developing obesity between 5 to 7 years of age. In this scenario, the risk increases by 13 percent when compared to women with normal blood glucose levels on the screening test.

The children of women who have high glucose blood levels during pregnancy, even if their mothers are not diagnosed with gestational diabetes, are at an increased risk of developing obesity in childhood, according to a new study published in PLOS One.

Additionally, researchers also found if the mother has a normal body mass index (BMI), elevated blood glucose levels during pregnancy were no longer associated with the development of childhood obesity.

The Lead Research/Investigator

The study was co authored by Samantha Ehrlich, professor of public health at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and fellow researchers at Kaiser Permanente Northern California.


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