January 18, 2016
1 min read

Mediterranean diet during pregnancy may lower waist circumference in children

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Young children whose mothers followed a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy had an average waist circumference that was 0.6 cm smaller than the children of mothers who adhered poorly to the diet, according to research in Pediatric Obesity.

In a prospective analysis of more than 1,800 mother–child pairs participating in the population-based “Infancia y Medio Ambiente” (INMA) birth cohort study, the researchers also found no clear association between maternal adherence to the Mediterranean diet and childhood BMI.

Silvia Fernandez-Barres, a dietitian nutritionist and doctoral student at Rovira i Virgili University and Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,827 mother–child pairs from the INMA study recruited between 2003 and 2008 (mean age of mothers, 31 years). Participants completed a 101-item food frequency questionnaire during the first and third trimester of pregnancy; researchers used the relative Mediterranean diet score (rMED) to assess adherence to the Mediterranean diet. Follow-up, which included weight and height measurements, occurred at third trimester, birth and when children were aged 6 months, 1 year and 4 years. Researchers used multivariate adjusted linear and logistic regression models to evaluate associations between adherence to the diet during pregnancy and overweight and abdominal obesity in children.

At age 4 years, 1,303 children were considered normal weight (71.3%); 298 children were considered to have overweight (16.3%); and 226 children were considered to have obesity (12.4%) according to WHO criteria.

Researchers found the maternal rMED score was not significantly associated with BMI z score in children in any studied models; however, an inverse association was found between the highest rMED adherence tertile and waist circumference in children (beta level = –0.62; 95% CI, –1.1 to –0.14).

Researchers found no association between rMED score in pregnancy and odds of overweight in children, and the inverse association between rMED and odds of abdominal obesity was not statistically significant.

“At this early age, we do not know if this [waist circumference] difference is clinically relevant and will have an impact on future cardiometabolic outcomes,” the researchers wrote. “However, these results add to the evidence that early life nutritional factors might have an influence on body composition in early childhood.” – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: the researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.