Today a new study was published which was conducted at Laval University in which it was found that babies born to mothers after they had bariatric surgery experienced healthier hearts and reduced cardiovascular risks. Researchers found that this phenomenon was due to Epigenetic factors.
Bariatric surgery is a frequently performed complex and high-risk surgery for obese individuals with a BMI over 35. This surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach by connecting the small bowel to the remaining stomach. Numerous nutritional issues and complications have been reported after this complex surgery ranging from nutrient deficienies to malabsorption. The average BMI of individuals after the surgery is found to be on average around 27. This type of surgery was performed around 8087 times in the UK in 2010/2011 and 220,000 times in the US, although on both sides of the pond the number of procedures done annually seems to have plateaued.
Although a risky surgery, the benefits experienced by individuals have included total elimination of medication as well as 75% reduction of Diabetes after 2 years of the surgery, not to mention the beneficial psychological impact.
Epigenetics studies the field of genetic imprinting. We are all influenced physiologically by the genes we have inherited but also by our environment. Methyl groups produced by our bodies have the ability to switch genes on and off. It is believed that hypermethylation leads to silencing of genes which may have an impact on chronic diseases as mentioned in previous posts.
As obesity is an inflammatory state, researchers found that babies who were born after their mums had the surgery had increased methylation markers which lead to lower cardiovascular disease risk, insulin resistance and lower blood pressure. Methylation levels of siblings of the babies who were born before the surgery were significantly different.
The researchers believe that the beneficial environment created in the womb by the mother losing weight due to the bariatric surgery resulted in favourable gene methylation levels of the foetus and therefore improved health.
The researchers highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy weight during all stages of life. This in effect means that the focus should not only be on achieveing a healthy body weight and lifestyle for ourselves but also for our children and generations after.
So in my opinion, not all obese mumes should have bariatric surgery, of course there are strict guidelines in place and should be evaluated on an individual basis, however we should not ignore what epigenetics is trying to teach us, start healthy habits early!
Not sure what your BMI is or how to achieve a healthy body weight and lifestyle?, why not discuss your health pro-actively with a registered nutritionist or dietitian to get face to face appointment or virtual online coaching today.