Time and again doctors and nutritionists have stressed on the do's and don'ts of what to eat when you 'eat for two'. A new research published in the Journal of Physiology takes this a step further. It suggests that a high-fat diet during pregnancy and at the time of lactation may offset weight-gain and obesity for the child at some point later in life.
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A healthy diet is important even otherwise, but even more so when you're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or lactating. According to National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom, one doesn't need to go on a diet but just be mindful of what one is eating. So maintain an ideal balance of foods that cover all essential vitamins and nutrients.
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Coming back to the study that was conducted at Penn State College of Medicine, the offspring of mothers who are obese or are on a high-fat diet have been shown to be overweight or have weight-related problems themselves.
According to lead investigator Kirsteen Browning, associate professor of neural and behavioural sciences at the Penn State College of Medicine, "It is time that we start to take seriously the idea that obesity is, in part, a brain disease." She noted that not all people who are obese had mothers who ate high-fat diets when they were pregnant, and not all mothers who eat high-fat diets will have obese children.
She added, "It is just one more risk factor. An understanding of the biological mechanisms underpinning obesity could help stem the tide of obesity."
For the study, the researchers fed one group of rats a high-fat diet during pregnancy and lactation. Their offspring were fed the same diet after weaning. When the rats reached adolescence, the researchers measured their neural activity involved in energy balance and appetite regulation. "We looked at the circuits that relay information from the stomach and the small intestine to the brain and back to the stomach telling it how to work," Browning said.
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These normal reflex mechanisms, which help limit the amount of food we eat, can malfunction and become less sensitive in obesity.
The findings suggest that there are significant effects of maternal and perinatal diet on some of the regions that control feeding and satiety in the brain. Exactly how maternal diet influences these functions is still unknown. "We found that parts of these reflexes were actually compromised even before we saw obesity," Browning added.
With inputs from IANS