While it may seem obvious to place the blame for the growing obesity epidemic on poor diets or lack of physical activity, there’s still a lot we don’t know about why an individual person does or doesn’t put on weight. To find out, scientists are going back to the start of life. They’re investigating whether a mother being overweight in pregnancy influences whether her child is likely to grow up to be overweight too. Studying pregnant monkeys as a model for humans, they’ve found that fat droplets (red spots) build up in the livers of foetuses from obese mothers (right) but not in the offspring of females at a healthy weight (left), which might contribute to health problems and obesity later on. More than 50 per cent of women of childbearing age are overweight or obese worldwide, so it’s vital to understand how a mother’s weight affects their child’s health.
Written by Kat Arney
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.