A study from the University of Adelaide released this week on EurekAlert! shows that mothers who eat junk food while pregnant have programmed their babies to crave a high sugar, high fat diet even after weaning.
I think we’re all familiar with the “high” you get from eating junk food. When you bite into something high in fat or sugar your body produces opioids, which stimulates the happy hormone, dopamine. The researchers discovered that being exposed to a high fat, high sugar diet in-utero desensitized the baby to this happy hormone “high” so later in life the child will have to eat larger quantities of junk food to achieve the dopamine response.
Encouragingly, the researchers found that if the babies are given a healthy diet after weaning there are no long-term health consequences; however, they will always have a predisposition to unhealthy eating and obesity, according to EurekAlert!
These findings really made me pause and think about my pregnancy diet, which definitely includes more fun food treats than I typically allow myself. I have a fairly healthy diet but while pregnant I have no problem saying “yes” to that extra scoop of ice cream for dessert. I’m growing a whole human! I deserve it! And I’ve also just assumed that I’ve got genetics on my side–my husband and I are slender people so I assume our kids won’t have to battle obesity. But this study makes me realize that I may be programming this baby for a predilection for junk food, which is not cool. I have a tough time getting my two big kids to eat vegetables because they’d much rather eat salty crackers and sweet cookies. Is that normal kid behavior or did I program them to be that way because I ate too many Oreos while pregnant?!
Did you eat a lot of junk food while pregnant?
Source credit: EurekAlert!
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