Animal studies suggest that high-fat diet during pregnancy has the potential to alter a baby’s developing brain and increase its chances of obesity later in life.
The team at Yale School of Medicine showed diet could change the structure of mice brains.
They argue this could explain why the children of obese parents are more likely to become grossly overweight.
Animal studies suggest that high-fat diet during pregnancy has the potential to alter a baby’s developing brain and increase its chances of obesity later in life
Experts said the study had merit, but brain changes in humans were unproven.
Obesity can run in families and shared eating habits are a major factor.
However, there is evidence that diet during pregnancy can also influence a child’s future waistline, such as through changes to DNA.
The latest foray into the field, published in the journal Cell, shows the structure of the brain itself may be changed.
The experiments on mice showed that mothers on a high-fat diet had pups with an altered hypothalamus, a part of the brain important for regulating metabolism.
These mouse pups were more likely to become overweight and develop type 2 diabetes than the pups of mothers given a normal diet.
Prof. Tamas Horvath, from Yale, says a healthy diet during pregnancy may help to break the cycle of obese parents having obese children.
A Dutch study has found that severely obese children are putting their heart at danger even while they are still in primary school.
Heart disease is normally associated with middle age, but the early warning signs were detected in children between the ages of two and 12.
Two-thirds of the 307 children studied had a least one early symptom such as high blood pressure.
The findings were presented in Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Obesity is a growing problem around the world with more people becoming obese and at a younger age.
A Dutch study has found that severely obese children are putting their heart at danger even while they are still in primary school
Two-year-olds with a Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of obesity, greater than 20.5 are classed as severely obese. By the age of 18, a BMI of 35 is a sign of severe obesity.
Researchers at the VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam collected data from the Dutch Paediatric Surveillance Unit between 2005 and 2007.
They looked at warning signs of heart disease in the severely obese children.
“Remarkably, 62% of severely obese children under 12 years of age already had one or more cardiovascular risk factors,” the study concluded.
More than half had high blood pressure, and there were also cases of low “good cholesterol” and high blood sugar, which can result in Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers said this “may lead to cardiovascular disease in young adulthood”.