An ongoing study by the University of Crete into childhood obesity warns that the problem may stem from the time of conception.
“We need to get rid of the notion that childhood obesity is linked exclusively to increased food intake and less physical activity,” said Leda Hadzi, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition who spearheaded the RHEA Study in 2007. “These factors alone do not explain the child obesity epidemic in this country,” where 44 percent of boys and 38 percent of girls at school age are overweight or obese, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Hadzi, whose team is monitoring 1,500 children, said that “the children are now 8 years old and one in three is already overweight or obese.”
Every 200 grams that a pregnant woman gains in the first trimester increases her child’s chances of becoming overweight by 25 percent, Hadzi said, adding that smoking and exposure to pollutants also weigh against the child’s development.