MEDIA ALERT: “Fish Consumption & Childhood Obesity Study” Didn’t Look at Eating Fish or Exercise in Children

Research does not conclude mom eating fish leads to childhood obesity

February 16, 2016 – Washington, D.C. – Journalists reporting on a new study about seafood consumption in JAMA Pediatrics should actually read the study and report with an eye for detail and perspective.

The research did not consider childhood diet (foods or beverages consumed) or lifestyle factors (physical activity levels) at all at any point during the study. And the lead author calls its conclusions “speculative.”

To be clear, the study did not look at the fish consumption of infants or children, period. Or whether the kids exercised. The researchers looked at fish intake in pregnant women, and then followed up with their children at 2-year intervals until age 6. To suggest a single food that a mother ate while pregnant is responsible for a child’s weight at age 6 is nothing short of bizarre.

“I am in no way concerned that eating seafood during pregnancy could cause obesity in children,” said Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute. “The nutrition community understands that the causes of obesity at any age are multi-factorial and cannot be explained by one single food.”

The reality is, pregnant women in the United States currently eat less than two ounces of seafood a week, and the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans urge them to eat at least four times that to improve babies’ health.

In fact, a “key point” in the new JAMA study notes, “Fish contains important nutrients for developing fetuses and its consumption should not be avoided.”

Reporters should take their editorial cue from Time and note in the lead that the conclusion reached by the research “doesn’t mean that seafood leads to weight gain” and that “the findings do not suggest that eating more fish causes pregnant women to have heavier children.”


Contact Information

Contact: Gavin Gibbons (703) 752-8891