A research project by British scientists shows that mothers who eat junk food during pregnancy may raise their chances of having obese offspring who would be at risk of developing diabetes.
The study by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London indicates that the offspring of mothers who fed on unhealthy food with poor nutritional value during gestation and lactation display poorly developed muscles in comparison with those fed on a more balanced diet, the New Scientist reported Thursday on its website.
According to the research, rats that were fed doughnuts, muffins, chocolates, crisps, cheese, biscuits and sweets during pregnancy and lactation gave birth to offspring with increased fatness and muscle waste.
The offspring also displayed signs of insulin resistance, a condition that precedes the early onset of type-2 diabetes as early as 3 weeks after birth.
" Our research suggests that healthy eating habits should start during the fetal life of an individual. Future mothers need to be aware that pregnancy is not the time to over-indulge on sugary-fatty treats," Professor Neil Stickland from the College was quoted as saying.
Eating large quantities of junk food when pregnant and breastfeeding could cause irreversible damage to their unborn children and send their offspring on the road to obesity and early onset of diabetes, said Neil.
Researchers from the College are currently investigating the longer- term effects of a maternal junk food diet on the offspring's development and health as well as the possible effects of such diets on promoting hyperactive behavior in offspring.