Response to stories suggesting that “children of obese mothers will die 8 years early”.

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An article published in the Mirror on Tuesday 18th of October reported that “Kids of Obese Mums Will Die 8 Years Early”. The Telegraph reported that “Obese mothers risk shortening lives of children by up to 17 years”.

Study author, Professor Tim Nawrot, Centre for Environmental Sciences, Hasselt University responded: 

“The headlines are not an accurate reflection of our research. Telomeres are a structure at the ends of the DNA which protect the DNA from damage. Throughout a person’s lifetime, the telomeres are gradually made shorter. Their length is considered an indicator of biological ageing and has been associated with age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease. 

Our research found an association between higher BMI in pregnant women and shorter telomere length in their children. However it’s not accurate to suggest specific to the year reductions in average life expectancy of children born to obese mothers. Although telomere length is an important determinant of molecular ‘longevity’ at birth, factors during life will still contribute to final life expectancy”.

Published: 18 October 2016