Mothers who eat junk food while pregnant have already programmed their babies to be addicted to a high fat, high sugar diet by the time they are weaned, a recent Australian research found on Tuesday.
This research from the University of Adelaide found that a junk food diet during pregnancy and lactation desensitized the normal reward system fueled by these highly palatable foods.
This means that children being born to a mother who ate a diet dominated by junk food would need to eat more fat and sugar to get the same good feeling, increasing their preference for junk food. It would also encourage them to overeat.
Led by Dr Bev Muhlhausler, Postdoctoral Fellow in the University's FOODplus Research Centre, this is the first study to show the effects of maternal junk food consumption at such an early stage in the offspring's life.
"Although our research shows that many of the long-term health problems associated with maternal junk food diets can be avoided if offspring carefully follow a healthy diet after weaning, they are always going to have a predisposition for overconsumption of junk food and obesity. It's going to make it much more difficult for them to maintain a healthy body weight," She said.