Does Teen Pregnancy Lead To Obesity?

Teenage mothers are at a greater risk of becoming obese than other women their age who don’t get pregnant, according to a new study by health care provider Kaiser Permanente. “Our findings are potentially important because adolescence has been identified as one of the critical periods of development that set the stage for the onset of obesity later in life,” wrote researchers in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Their findings show that pregnancy boosts obesity risks for adult women, and that adolescent pregnancy may have a greater influence on the body weight and fat accumulations of teens. Dr. Erica Gunderson, the lead researcher, and her colleagues evaluated 1,890 women starting at age 9 or 10, and then every year for up to 10 years. 31 percent of the women became pregnant. Of the 983 black girls, 43 percent got pregnant during their teen years, compared to 19 percent of the white girls. 28 percent of the white teens and 49 percent of the black teens, whether they became pregnant or not, were obese or overweight at age 18 or 19. However, among those who had at least one baby during their teen years, 40 percent of whites and 57 percent of blacks were obese or overweight. Those women who had given birth at least once had larger waists, larger hips, and more body fat than their peers who hadn’t been pregnant.

What’s interesting about this report is the omission of other factors that could have led to obesity besides teen pregnancy. There wasn’t any mention about what these women ate before, during, and after their pregnancies. Also omitted was whether there was a family history of obesity. Were any of these women obese or overweight before becoming pregnant? Also, there has to be a correlation between becoming a pregnant teen, feeling depressed, and over-eating to soothe negative feelings. There has to be more than a biological cause for the link between teen pregnancy and obesity. [Reuters]