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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Apr;17(4):772-7. doi: 10.1038/oby.2008.620. Epub 2009 Jan 15.

Maternal influence, not diabetic intrauterine environment, predicts children's energy intake.

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Obesity and Diabetes Clinical Research Section, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.


Offspring of women with diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of accelerated weight gain and diabetes, effects partly mediated by the in utero environment. Whether differences in energy intake can explain this increased risk is unknown. We compared diet composition, eating patterns, and physiological responses to a mixed meal in 63 nondiabetic children whose mothers developed diabetes either before (offspring of diabetic mothers, ODMs, n = 31, age 9.2 +/- 1.7 years, mean +/- s.d.) or after (offspring of prediabetic mothers, OPDMs, n = 32, 9.6 +/- 1.3 years) the pregnancy. After consuming a standardized diet for 3 days, participants ate ad libitum from a computer-operated vending machine stocked with foods they had rated favorably on a food preferences questionnaire. Mothers and children always ate together. A subset of 35 children underwent a meal test with blood draws to measure insulin and glucose. Children's energy intake was associated with age, sex, and percent body fat, and strongly with mother's energy intake (r = 0.57, P < 0.0001). After adjustment for these variables, there were no differences between ODM and OPDM in energy intake or diet composition. The insulin area under the curve (AUC) following the meal test was significantly correlated with total energy intake but not after adjustment for the above covariates. Differences in energy intake were not observed between ODM and OPDM. Mother's energy intake was a significant predictor of children's energy intake. These findings indicate that in this subset of children in a controlled in-patient setting, maternal influence may outweigh intrauterine effects on energy intake.

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