10/03/2011 15:52 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Overweight? Were You Were An Underweight Baby?

woman-pinching-midriff-fat Pinch more than an inch? Perhaps you were a tiny baby. Photo: Getty

There are many reasons why some people are overweight while others aren't, and the more scientists look into the subject, the more complicated the picture gets. Sure, many people who are overweight have a problem because they simply eat more than those who don't have a weight problem. But why do some have a big appetite while others are happy to eat less?

One reason, say experts from the Lowe Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, could be linked to how heavy you were when you were born. Tiny babies with a low birth weight could be literally 'programmed' to eat more, they claim. That's because they develop fewer neurons in part of the brain that controls food intake.

Writing in the journal Brain Research, the scientists claim their findings suggest overeating could be programmed at the level of stem cells before you're even born. At least it may be in cases where the mother has poor or inadequate nutrition.

Previous studies have already suggested that being born underweight is associated with an increased risk of adult obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. But this latest report is the first to point out a difference in neural stem cells between low-birth-weight and normal-weight babies.

Their findings, say the researchers, highlight the importance of eating well during pregnancy in order to protect your child from obesity, as well as other health problems, when they grow up.

Were you a small baby? Do you think it's affected your appetite?

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