Researchers at RVC fed female rats doughnuts, muffins, chocolate, potato chips, cheese, cookies and candy during pregnancy, and noted that the offspring of these rats were fatter, had more muscle waste, and showed signs of insulin resistance -- a precursor to type 2 diabetes -- when compared to control groups.
"In Western society, the proportion of obese children is increasing," said researcher professor Neil Stickland. "Childhood obesity is associated with a range of disorders, including heart disease, arthritis and the increasingly earlier onset of type 2 diabetes, which have important consequences on an individual's quality of life."
Stickland added that, while efforts to improve food in schools are positive steps, it is also important to educate mothers on the consequences of indulging in sugary and fatty foods during pregnancy. "Eating large quantities of junk food when pregnant and breastfeeding could be causing irreversible damage to their unborn children and could send their offspring on the road to obesity and early onset of diabetes," he said.
The study was published in The Journal of Physiology, and now Stickland and colleague Dr. Stephanie Bayol are studying the long-term effects of poor diet during pregnancy on offspring, as well as the possible effects on promoting hyperactive behavior.
"Eating junk food during pregnancy is extremely harmful to a developing fetus," said Mike Adams, author of "Grocery Warning" and proponent of prenatal nutrition. "To optimize the health of the child, all food adulterations and additives must be avoided, including hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, chemical sweeteners and preservatives. Failure to avoid these ingredients will greatly increase the child's future risk of diabetes, heart disease, learning disabilities, cancer and even schizophrenia."