Photo by Von Pip*
And the good news just keeps on comin' and comin'...........
Reuters Aug 22, 2007
"LONDON—Children whose mothers eat junk food during pregnancy and breast-feeding are more likely to overeat, choose an unhealthy diet, and grow obese later in life, according to research using rats published on Aug. 15.
Previous studies have shown that children born to obese mothers are likely to be overweight, but the new findings are some of the first to look at what behaviors may be triggering unhealthy eating habits, the researchers said.
"It indicates there is a fetal programming for overeating," said Neil Stickland, a researcher at the Royal Veterinary College in London, who worked on the study.
"The fetuses are getting used to this junk food during gestation," he added in a telephone interview.
"It is not just genetics," he said. "We can show a direct link to what the mothers eat and how it affects the children."
In the study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers took two groups of pregnant rats and gave one a diet of junk food such as doughnuts, muffins, and sweets and fed the other nutritional pellets.
Surprisingly, Stickland said, there was no effect on birth weight. But when the young rats were weaned, the team found that the animals whose mothers ate junk food put on weight more quickly, had a taste for unhealthy food, and gorged, he added.
Studying rats has implications for humans because the mechanisms controlling appetite are similar in many species, Stickland said.
Obesity is a major issue worldwide and raises the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart problems. The World Health Organization classifies around 400 million people as obese, including 20 million children under the age of five.
The study also attempts to better understand what drives appetite, a process controlled by brain centers that respond to signals telling us when we are hungry and when we are full.
The research indicated that the young rats may be overindulging because as they eat more, the "pleasure centers" in the brain stimulated by sugary foods need increased amounts of food to reach the same level of satisfaction.
"Exposure to a maternal junk food diet during their fetal and suckling life might help explain why some individuals might find it harder than others to control their junk food intake even when given access to healthier foods later in life," Stephanie Bayol, a researcher at the Royal Veterinary College, who led the study, said in a statement."
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