Obesity, Pregnancy and the Social Contract with Today’s Adolescents

Cristiana Berti, Shirin Elahi, Patrick Catalano, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Michael B. Krawinkel, Francesca Parisi, Carlo Agostoni, Irene Cetin, Mark Hanson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Adolescent health and well-being are of great concern worldwide, and adolescents encounter particular challenges, vulnerabilities and constraints. The dual challenges of adolescent parenthood and obesity are of public health relevance because of the life-altering health and socioeconomic effects on both the parents and the offspring. Prevention and treatment strategies at the individual and population levels have not been successful in the long term, suggesting that adolescent pregnancy and obesity cannot be managed by more of the same. Here, we view adolescent obese pregnancy through the lens of the social contract with youth. The disruption of this contract is faced by today’s adolescents, with work, social and economic dilemmas which perpetuate socioeconomic and health inequities across generations. The lack of employment, education and social opportunities, together with obesogenic settings, increase vulnerability and exposure to lifelong health risks, affecting their offspring’s life chances too. To break such vicious circles of disadvantage and achieve sustainable solutions in real-world settings, strong efforts on the part of policymakers, healthcare providers and the community must be oriented towards guaranteeing equity and healthy nutrition and environments for today’s adolescents. The involvement of adolescents themselves in developing such programs is paramount, not only so that they feel a sense of agency but also to better meet their real life needs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3550
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • adolescents
  • nutrition
  • obesity
  • parental obesity
  • pregnancy
  • social context


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