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Eating Junk Food in Pregnancy Triggers Fat and Sugar Cravings in Babies

Posted Jun 05 2013 10:08pm
Posted on June 5, 2013, 6 a.m. in Diet Addiction Child Health

Women who eat junk food while pregnant are effectively programming their babies to be addicted to a high-fat and high-sugar diet by the time they are weaned, say researchers from the University of Adelaide (Australia). The study, led by Dr Beverly Mühlhäusler, Postdoctoral Fellow at the University's FOODplus Research Centre, is the first to show the effects of maternal junk food consumption at such an early stage in the offspring's life.  The body produces opioids as a reward response to many factors, including intake of fat and sugar. These opioids stimulate the production of the "feel good" hormone dopamine, which produces a good feeling. Study results showed that the sensitivity of the opioid signaling pathway in offspring of junk-food fed rats was significantly lower than that in offspring of rats fed a standard rodent diet (control). This suggests that children born to a mother who ate a diet dominated by junk food during pregnancy would need to eat more fat and sugar to get the same good feeling, thus increasing their preference for junk food. "In the same way that someone addicted to opioid drugs has to consume more of the drug over time to achieve the same 'high', continually producing excess opioids by eating too much junk food results in the need to consume more foods full of fat and sugar to get the same pleasurable sensation," says Dr Mühlhäusler. Preliminary findings suggest that the alterations to the opioid receptors are permanent. "The take-home message for women is that eating large amounts of junk food during pregnancy and while breastfeeding will have long-term consequences for their child's preference for these foods, which will ultimately have negative effects on their health," concludes Dr Mühlhäusler.

Jessica R Gugusheff, Zhi Yi Ong, Beverly S Muhlhausler. A maternal "junk-food" diet reduces sensitivity to the opioid antagonist naloxone in offspring postweaning. FASEB J. 2013;27:1275-1184.

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Tip #172 - A Towering Risk
Previously, some studies suggest that chronic exposure to low-dose electromagnetic radiation may cause adverse changes in the biology of the brain. Bern University (Switzerland) researchers studied data collected on 4.7 million people enrolled in the Swiss National Cohort (linking mortality and census data). The team found that those people who lived within 150 feet (50 meters) of an electrical tower were 24% more likely to die from dementia (as compared to those who lived more than 2,000 feet (600 meters) away. Further, the researchers observed that a person’s risks for dementia increased with the length of time that s/he spent near electrical towers. Those who lived in a tower’s shadow for more than 10 years were 78% more likely to die from dementia, and twice as likely if they lived there for more than 15 years.

Whenever and wherever possible, reduce your exposure to sources of low-dose electromagnetic radiation. Check your city or town records to ascertain the location of electrical and cellular phone transmission towers, relative to your residence.

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