Overweight mothers are almost three times more likely than normal-weight mothers to have a daughter who will be obese as an adult, according to the findings of a New Zealand-Swedish study out Thursday.

And obese mothers were nearly five times more likely to have a daughter who would grow up to become obese, according to researchers from the University of Auckland and Sweden’s Uppsala University.

The study of early pregnancy data on 26,561 Swedish mother-and-daughter pairs also found that obesity rates jumped four-fold between the two generations of women, from 3.1 percent among mothers entering pregnancy in 1982 to 1988 to 12.3 percent among their daughters in 2000 to 2008.

“These findings add to the international evidence for a worsening intergenerational cycle of obesity,” University of Auckland researcher Dr Jose Derraik said in a statement.

“Being obese increases a pregnant woman’s risk of developing pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, miscarriage and infant mortality,” said Derraik.

“Also, there is mounting evidence that obesity during pregnancy may affect children’s health not only in childhood, but also in adult life.”

The striking rise in obesity rates could be partly explained by the so-called “obesogenic environment,” where the family diet and lifestyle could foster the development of obesity among daughters.

“This study underlines how vital it is to try to break the obesity cycle by doing what we can to prevent obesity early in life,” said Derraik.

“Unfortunately, this is not easy. Obesity is a serious public health issue that requires solutions at every level of society.”


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