Washington, June 18 (ANI): Exposure to a high-fat diet in the womb and after birth can permanently change the cells in the brain that control food intake, predisposing offspring to overeating and an increased preference for fatty and sugary foods, a new study has revealed.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, found that male offspring of maternal monkeys that ate a high-fat diet had increased body weight, compared with the offspring of mothers that ate a low-fat diet.
The study's lead author, Juliana Gastao Franco, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Oregon Health and Science University, said that studies in humans have demonstrated that maternal obesity during pregnancy is a strong determinant of offspring body mass index, or BMI.
Franco and her co-investigators studied monkeys born to females that consumed either a low-fat diet, consisting of 14 percent of calories from fat, or a high-fat diet in which 36 percent of calories came from fat.
After weaning, 20 offspring of female monkeys on the high-fat diet either received the same high-fat diet (8 monkeys) or were switched to the control diet (12 monkeys).
Seven offspring of the control monkeys continued to receive the control diet.
It was found that all male offspring that had fetal exposure to a high-fat diet had increased body weight, despite having no changes in their metabolic rate and regardless of what they ate after weaning.
Also, the offspring that were switched to the control diet displayed, on average, greater overall food intake and increased binge eating of food with high sugar and fat, compared with either those maintained on a high-fat diet or the controls' offspring, she said.
The study was presented on Monday at the Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. (ANI)