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Junk food craving 'inherited'

15th August 2007

Scientists have suggested that women who eat junk food during pregnancy may be encouraging their children to eat the same diet once they are born.

crisps

However, with the findings based on animal tests, some nutritionists warn that in the absence of strong evidence that the same effect was present in humans, it was wrong to make women feel guilty about eating some unhealthy snacks during pregnancy.

In the latest study, Royal Veterinary College researchers discovered that when pregnant rats were fed biscuits, crisps and sweets, their babies ate more unhealthy food.

Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, they said the study – funded by the Wellcome Trust - showed the behaviour of the rats was “programmed? in the womb.

Scientists have shown that in humans, diet in the earlier stages of life sets a pattern for the future and can determine the risk of heart disease or obesity.

Professor Neil Stickland, who headed the research, said: “The government is trying to encourage healthier eating habits in school, but this shows that we need to start during the foetal and suckling life.

“Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty and sugary treats on the assumption that they are 'eating for two'.?

Dr Atul Singham from the Institute of Child Health in London said he was sceptical about the likely scale of “foetal programming? in child diet until it could be proven in human studies.

The charity Diabetes UK, cautioned against applying the findings to humans.

 

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