Refined grains, which are a major source of dietary carbohydrates, have been related to Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
The findings showed that children born to women with gestational diabetes – or high blood sugar during pregnancy – who consumed the most refined grain (more than 156 grams per day) were twice as likely to be obese at age 7, compared with those whose mothers ate the least quantity of refined grain (less than 37 grams per day).
The link between maternal grain consumption during pregnancy and children's obesity by age 7 still persisted when the researchers controlled for factors that could potentially influence the children's weight – such as physical activity level and consumption of vegetables, fruit and sweets, said Cuilin Zhang from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at National Institutes of Health in the US.
Emerging animal data suggest that in utero exposure to dietary refined carbohydrates may predispose offspring to an obesity, indicating a potential role for nutritional programming in the early origins of obesity.
For the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the team compared records from 918 mother-child pairs.