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An unhealthy diet during pregnancy sets children up for trouble

Category: General Wellness

Regularly using cholesterol testing services is important for not only adults, but children as well. There is a childhood obesity problem in the U.S., and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that overweight children and those who have a family history of high cholesterol get tested before the age of 10. According to recent research from the University of Adelaide, one way that mothers may be able to help their children avoid a future of obesity and unhealthy cholesterol levels is to eat healthy while pregnant.

The scientists discovered that mothers who regularly consumed junk food during their pregnancy have a high risk of having children who are addicted to fatty and sugary foods.

Setting them up for trouble
The scientists explained that there are opioids in the body that are produced as a reward response when people eat fat and sugar. These opioids stimulate the production of dopamine, which is the hormone in the body that makes people feel good. The researchers discovered that women who consumed junk food while pregnant and breastfeeding had children with less sensitive opioid signal pathways. This means that they will have to consume more junk food in order to experience the dopamine surge that other people do from eating small amounts of fat and sugar.

The researchers explained that this issue could turn into a lifelong problem for these children.

"Although our research shows that many of the long-term health problems associated with maternal junk food diets can be avoided if offspring carefully follow a healthy diet after weaning, they are always going to have a predisposition for overconsumption of junk food and obesity. It's going to make it much more difficult for them to maintain a healthy body weight," said Bev Muhlhausler, Ph.D, postdoctoral fellow in the University's FOODplus Research Center.

Eat better during pregnancy
These findings should encourage women to consume healthier foods while they are pregnant. What To Expect states that even if women are taking a number of vitamins and minerals while pregnant, they still have to eat healthy foods. For example, avocados are packed with folic acid - an important nutrient for growing babies - so women should add them to their diets. Other foods that pregnant women should consider consuming are broccoli, carrots, eggs, lentils, nuts and other fruits, vegetables and healthy sources of protein.

Women should also maintain a healthy diet while breastfeeding, because the nutrients they consume will go to their baby as well.

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