Overeating and adult obesity has been linked to an essential stem cell change that happens in the womb.
A mother's poor nutritional intake can affect her future child's ability to make good food choices.
A recent study carried out by LA BioMed has provided a further understanding of the link between low birth weights and obesity later in life.
The study by a team of researchers at Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (LA BioMed) found nutritionally deprived newborns are "programmed" to eat more because they develop less neurons in the region of the brain that controls food intake.
Previous studies have found a small size at birth followed by accelerated "catch-up" growth is associated with an increased risk of adult obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.
"This study demonstrates the importance of maternal nutrition and health in reducing obesity," said principal investigator Dr Mina Desai, "Obesity and its related diseases are the leading cause of death in our society, yet we have few effective strategies for prevention or treatment.”
The researchers also discovered that, in addition to obesity, altered brain (neural stem cells) development suggest that poor growth in the womb may be associated with cognitive and behavioural alterations.