Mother's junk food diet could harm children
A study suggests that a mother's poor diet can do long-lasting and irreversible damage to her child.
The effects include obesity, raised levels of cholesterol, and the risk of diabetes.
Although the research was conducted on rats, scientists say the findings are very likely to apply to humans.
The results fit in with observed patterns of children's weight reflecting that of their parents.
Dr Stephanie Bayol, one of the scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, London, said: "It seems that a mother's diet whilst pregnant and breastfeeding is very important for the long-term health of her child.
"We always say 'you are what you eat'. In fact it may also be true that 'you are what your mother ate'.
"This does not mean that obesity and poor health is inevitable and it is important that we take care of ourselves and lead a healthy lifestyle. But it does mean that mothers must eat responsibly whilst pregnant."
The new research follows up a previous study by the same team in which pregnant rats were given a diet rich in fat, sugar and salt.
Many gave birth to offspring which over-ate and had a preference for junk food.
The team has now taken the research further to show that a mother's diet can have effects lasting well into adulthood.
Even when young rats were weaned off junk food, their metabolism remained altered, making them overweight and unhealthy.
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