The report (1) that a maternal junk food diet in pregnancy may lead to a taste for junk food in the offspring (albeit rats) has attracted my attention today. Is this something else I should be worrying about this pregnancy?

In the study conducted at the Royal Veterinary College, rats were fed either rodent chow alone or with a junk food diet (including biscuits, cheese, doughnuts, muffins, flapjacks, crisps and chocolate bars) during gestation and lactation. Results showed that rats born to mothers fed the junk food diet developed an exacerbated preference for fatty, sugary and salty foods at the expense of protein-rich foods. Although there is no evidence that the results with rats would be the same for humans, the authors nevertheless hypothesize that a maternal junk food diet during pregnancy and lactation may be an important contributing factor in the development of obesity.

We all know we should be eating a healthy, balanced diet anyway, especially during pregnancy, but should I be cutting back on the treats I am allowing myself? I seem to remember consuming more than my fair share of chocolate during my first pregnancy. Maybe this has ‘programmed’ my son to love the stuff so much? But don’t all children like chocolate anyway? Actually, no! My cousin ate no chocolate or sweets during her pregnancy, and her 6-year-old daughter refuses both out of choice. Coincidence or not – who knows?

Come to think of it, I remember my friends encouraging me to eat chocolate back in 2004 following the report suggesting that chocolate consumption during pregnancy may make for happier, livelier babies! I have found the abstract on (2), along with 11,000 others relating to nutrition in pregnancy – something to delve into later!

Anyway, I don’t think I will worry too much about this latest research – after all stress is a bigger concern in pregnancy (and the flooding of my house has already done enough to raise my cortisol levels!)……..and at least I can say my son is a fan of broccoli!

1. Bayol, S.A.; Farrington, S.J.; Stickland, N.C. A maternal ‘junk food’ diet in pregnancy and lactation promotes an exacerbated taste for ‘junk food’ and a greater propensity for obesity in rat offspring. British Journal of Nutrition, published online 15 August 2007.

2. Räikkönen, K.; Pesonen, A.K.; Järvenpää, A.L.; Strandberg, T.E. Sweet babies: chocolate consumption during pregnancy and infant temperament at six months. Early Human Development, 2004, vol. 76, no. 2, pp. 139-145

1 Comment

  1. Cara Fletcher on 24th September 2007 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve decided not to keep diets during pregnancy and eat everything that I want and it seems that this is the right decision.I’d some exercises to stay in shape on the other hand.

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