LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — A University of Wyoming researcher has been awarded a five-year, $1.5 million grant to fund his study into obesity in expectant mothers.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health goes to Stephen P. Ford, who is director of UW's Center for the Study of Fetal Programming.

The institute reports that 30 percent of women of child-bearing age are overweight or obese at conception and remain so throughout pregnancy. Maternal obesity not only predisposes mothers to serious health problems during pregnancy, but also increases the incidence of chronic metabolic diseases in their children and grandchildren.

Ford's research has demonstrated that pregnant sheep are a good model for the study of human obesity. Ford says lambs born to obese ewes develop the same metabolic diseases exhibited by human babies.