Junk-food pregnancy diets 'produce obese offspring'
The study advises pregnant women to control their junk food intake
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Wednesday, 15, Aug 2007 08:47
Women who eat junk food while pregnant and breastfeeding could produce children who are more likely to be overweight or obese, a new study warns.
Research carried out at the Royal Veterinary College, London, suggests that pregnant and breastfeeding women should not indulge in fatty, sugary and salty foods while they are 'eating for two'.
The impact of unhealthy diets in new mothers and mothers-to-be is thought to harm offspring's normal control of appetite and produce an exacerbated taste for junk food.
Compared to rats given normal feed, rats that were fed a diet of processed junk food including doughnuts, muffins and sweets during pregnancy and lactation were found to produce offspring which overate and had a preference for junk foods rich in fat, sugar and salt.
Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, the research team argue their findings have implications for humans.
Lead author Dr Stephanie Bayol said the findings may explain why some individuals find it harder than others to reject junk food even when presented with healthier options in later life.
"Our study has shown that eating large quantities of junk food when pregnant and breastfeeding could impair the normal control of appetite and promote an exacerbated taste for junk food in offspring," she said Dr Stephanie Bayol.
"This could send offspring on the road to obesity and make the task of teaching healthy eating habits in children even more challenging."
Co-author Professor Stickland added: "The government is trying to encourage healthier eating habits in schools, but our research shows that healthy eating habits need to start during the foetal and suckling life of an individual.
"Giving children better school dinners is very good, but more needs to be done to raise awareness in pregnant and breastfeeding women as well. Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty-sugary treats on the misguided assumption that they are 'eating for two'."