Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Did my mother make me fat?

Finally on holidays! Will update very soon, just enjoying doing anything but work at the moment.  Loving socialising and catching up on things I always mean to do during the school term.  However, will leave this article from todays paper (Stuff.co.nz - 19th April 2011)

NZ research links child obesity to mother's diet

Kiwi scientists have helped prove a link between a mother's diet during pregnancy and the risk of childhood obesity.

The study, led by Southampton University and including New Zealand researchers, shows for the first time that a mother's diet during pregnancy can alter the function of her child's DNA and can lead to children having a tendency to "lay down" more fat.

The study shows this has nothing to do with the mother's weight or the child's weight at birth. Auckland University professor Sir Peter Gluckman, who led the New Zealand arm of the study, said there had been a long-suspected link between a poor start to life and the later development of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, but until now there had not been human data to back up the idea. He said the study confirmed the importance of maternal nutrition to children's development.

"It confirms our suspicions that maternal nutrition does indeed influence the offspring's risk of later obesity and disease ... there is the potential to halt progression towards disease through nutritional and or pharmacological interventions during early life."

The study measured the epigenetic state – the degree of chemical modification – of DNA in umbilical cord tissue of nearly 300 children and showed that this strongly predicted the degree of obesity at six or nine years of age. The amount of change in DNA tissue at birth was associated with features of the mother's diet in the first third of a pregnancy. Predictions based on these results were much stronger than explanations of obesity based on hereditary factors and lifestyle. Sir Peter said the study proved the importance of preventive infant health and could help fight the problem of obesity and diabetes in new ways and earlier in life.

"This study provides the most compelling argument yet for giving greater weight to improving maternal and infant health as a means of reducing the burden of chronic disease. It is manifestly insufficient to focus on interventions in the adult alone."

Interesting article, makes you think!

Another from the same newspaper link (31st March 2010), I came across - although it is really talking about Gastric Bypass Surgery, just reaffirmed how people who haven't had weight loss surgery don't always understand why those who do have often have done it as a last resort, not as a quick fix.  I'm lucky so far, not one person has said to me, Im doing it for a quick fix (and I am quite open about having the surgery).

Is obesity surgery cheating?

Oh yes, I'm all accepting of people and their struggles with weight. Until they mention plans to have surgery to fix it. Then the judgements start inside me.
Is time running out for the obese?I'm not particularly proud of that. I try to be pretty open to understanding that we all have our own paths and we all need to find the best way. But if I'm honest, a huge part of me says exactly what I cannot bear people to say to all overweight people: "oh for goodness' sake, get over it, stop eating crap and start moving."
Which really isn't particularly caring, is it? And I know full well it isn't that simple. Not with everyone. As I said, I'm not proud of it.
Personally I believe there is often a huge emotional tie to the excess weight we carry. If we don't process it, then we can't get rid of it for good. If we try to get rid of it, and haven't sorted through some of the emotional stress that put us there, the weight is just going to go back on. So to me, using surgery just makes me think that any chance to sort through that and deal with why you are fat is cut off. Quite literally.
But then a friend of mine announced on twitter the other day that she was finally on the list for the op through the public health system. All those nasty little comments inside me came rising up. Except this time it was about a friend, who I knew was moving and wasn't eating a lot of rubbish. She walks every day, does yoga to a pretty hard-core level, and recently competed in a duathlon. She isn't a lazy slug of a person. And it just isn't working.
Angelique kept a food diary and went to the gym every day for a year and lost one kilogram. ONE. Personally I'd have given up after three months if weight loss had been my goal. She's only decided to have the surgery as her mother had it in February and since then has lost 26kg. She also tried Xenical and a pile of diets and eating plans. Nothing has worked.
Obesity cartoonHer mother was unable to work due to severe psoriatic arthritis that led to her being housebound. Her medication for her condition is now a third of what it was at the beginning of the year, and she's gone from not being able to move to walking three kilometres a day. While the operation cost around $20,000, this cost is the same as two years of medication and care for her condition. With her life expectancy to be 20 years-plus, this is a large long-term savings for the health system.
I can see the sense of this, and I'm thrilled that it's working, but still a part of me (the illogical part, plainly!) thinks it's cheating. Is it because I'm choosing to do it in a way that has no shortcuts and I'm frustrated at how fast her weight's dropped off? Maybe. I'm not sure. (Man, who knew I was so mean? I'm disappointing myself!)
Psoriatic arthritis is something Angelique suffers from as well, to a lesser degree. She objected to putting her name on the waiting list for a long time, because she didn't think she could cope with the flak she would get from people for taking the easy way out. Only since seeing her mum's results has she changed her mind. Talking to her, I can see she's thought about it a lot. And she's already got a healthy lifestyle. She's not someone I can see will have the op, lose the weight, and then eat her way back up to big again (I do know people who have done this.).
What do you think? We've got people saying surgery is the best way to beat the obesity epidemic, others saying it's about willpower, and then me and others saying it's all about sorting out the baggage before you let it go, and making sure you are eating the foods that make your body work best.
Is only one of these right? Is there a case by case basis that makes it different for each person? Do you think surgery's a good idea? Do you think the health system should fund more of them? Or less? What is the solution?

The comments to this article were mixed.  Some agreed with the writer, but many who actually knew people that had the surgery, knew they had done so many other things beforehand to lose weight but always gained it back.  The surgery was a useful tool is helping with weightloss, but also helped the patient gain back their life as they wanted it to be.  Is that so wrong?

1 comment:

  1. The article about cheating is why I do not tell people about my WLS. I don't know about diets while being pregnant but I will say that parents do set an example for eating to the kids and I come from a fat family that have gone on to have fat kids. I am hoping to break this cycle with my kids starting with me.