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Junk Food Diet During Pregnancy Increases Risk That Babies Will Be Junk Food Junkies

March 22, 2011: 11:40 AM EST
The babies of pregnant mothers whose diet is high in sugar and fat have an increased risk of becoming addicted to junk food, according to new Australian research. The study conducted in rats found that a junk food diet alters the fetal brain's reward pathway and, in turn, food preferences. Researchers studied two groups of rats that were either fed a standard diet or a junk food diet during pregnancy and lactation. Rats whose mothers ate the junk food diet had higher levels of the receptor for “feel good” opioids and chose to eat more fatty foods compared to those whose mothers ate standard rat chow. The researchers said their findings may explain why some people easily resist fatty and sugary foods, while others seem hopelessly addicted.
Z. Y. Ong, B. S. Muhlhausler, "Maternal “junk-food” feeding of rat dams alters food choices and development of the mesolimbic reward pathway in the offspring", The FASEB Journal, March 22, 2011, © American Society of Nephrology
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