In the UK a quarter of two-to-five-year olds are overweight or obese. The World Health Organisation (WHO) classify childhood obesity as one of the most serious global health challenges for the 21st century and in 2016 estimated that more than 41 million children under five years old were overweight or obese worldwide.
Although childhood obesity undoubtedly has many causes, there is evidence to suggest that the nutrition that babies of obese women receive while in the womb significantly increases the risk of weight gain in early infancy. The WHO advises all mothers to breastfeed exclusively for the first six months and suggests that it 'may protect' against childhood obesity. Despite this advice only 1% of UK mothers do so.
Katie Dalrymple, British Heart Foundation Doctoral Researcher in the Department of Women & Children’s Health, said: