BABIES born with big tummies are less likely to suffer from high cholesterol levels as adults, according to a new study from researchers at Southampton University. They found a strong link between the circumference of the abdomen at birth and cholesterol levels at the age of 50 in more than 200 men and women born in Sheffield between 1939 and 1940.

The size of a newborn baby's tummy is largely determined by the size of its liver, the organ that makes and breaks down cholesterol. Failure of liver development in the late stages of pregnancy due, for example, to poor nutrition, may permanently change the way the body handles cholesterol. Raised cholesterol levels are strongly linked to heart disease, says a report in the British Medical Journal.