The chances of becoming obese may be determined even before birth, the latest research suggests.
A woman's health and weight both at the time of conception and during pregnancy may be key to their child's long-term health, according to the report by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF).
The taskforce at the BNF looked at the health and lifestyle of new mothers and concluded that a range of conditions, including obesity, asthma, allergies and cardiovascular disease, may be handed down by the mother.
"Evidence suggests that poor foetal growth, especially followed by accelerated growth in infancy, may be associated with long-term adverse consequences for health," said taskforce chairman Professor Tom Sanders.
A child's kidney development may also be hindered due to poor foetal growth, he added, leaving the child more vulnerable to the blood pressure raising effect of salt and therefore at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
The report suggests that some people may have bigger appetites than others in adulthood as it was effectively programmed in the womb by the mother's diet and weight.
"There is now unequivocal evidence to show the biological link between obesity and weight-related health issues in women and their children," said BNF science programme manager Sara Stanner.
The need for women to get more healthy before they conceive and during pregnancy is "a very important message in the fight against obesity", she added.
Almost half of women of child-bearing age in England are said to be overweight or obese.
Copyright Press Association 2013