Obesity and pregnancy, the perfect metabolic storm

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2021 Dec;75(12):1723-1734. doi: 10.1038/s41430-021-00914-5. Epub 2021 Apr 28.


Pregnancy is a physiological stress that requires dynamic, regulated changes affecting maternal and fetal adiposity. Excessive accumulation of dysfunctional adipose tissue defined by metabolic and molecular alterations cause severe health consequences for mother and fetus. When subjected to sustained overnutrition, the cellular and lipid composition of the adipose tissue changes predisposing to insulin resistance, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders compromising the outcome of the pregnancy. Moreover, excessive maternal weight gain, usually in the context of obesity, predisposes to an increased flux of nutrients from mother to fetus throughout the placenta. The fetus of an obese mother will accumulate more adiposity and may increase the risk of future metabolic disorder later in life. Thus, further understanding of the interaction between maternal metabolism, epigenetic regulation of the adipose tissue, and their transgenerational transfer are required to mitigate the adverse health outcomes for the mother and the fetus associated with maternal obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Obesity
  • Overnutrition*
  • Placenta / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*