A reproductive medicine expert has claimed that half of all women of child-bearing age in the UK are reducing their chances of having a baby by letting themselves become overweight.
Recent IVF research has shown that women double the risk of miscarrying their child if they are too fat, despite each patient in the tests having a healthy, potentially viable embryo transferred to her womb after successful fertilisation.
The new research, carried out by scientists at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London, focused on healthy IVF embryos and concluded that weight was likely to be responsible for the failed pregnancies. Miscarriages are already known to be more common among overweight women who conceive naturally.
Figures show that about half of women of reproductive age in the UK are defined as overweight by the body mass index (BMI), which compares height and weight. More than a third may have BMI scores of 30 or above, placing them in the obese bracket.
Professor Adam Balen, from the Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine, said: "About 30-35% of women of reproductive age in the UK are obese. A large proportion of women are jeopardising their chances of having children. It's an extremely important issue."