If a woman is obese during pregnancy, the paper found, then she is more than likely to deliver an obese child, or a child who becomes obese over time. Whatever the mother does, in other words, the child will also likely do – bad eating habits and all.
"According to the study, when a child in the womb is given 'early over-nutrition' it can actually rewire their developing brain to crave more unhealthy snacks and foods," reports explain.
(Related: Junk food companies are notorious for hiring paid shills to promote their products as "healthy.")
For their study, researchers conducted an experiment on mice. Some of the rodents were given an unlimited supply of high-fat foods during pregnancy and breastfeeding while others were kept slim by only having access to healthier foods.
While the adolescent mice born to the obese mothers who were fed garbage stayed slim for a time, they ended up following in their mothers' footsteps in adulthood when given access to unhealthy foods.
If those same mice born to obese mothers were fed only healthy food, then they stayed skinny into adulthood. However, compared to mice born to healthy mothers, mice born to obese mothers were much more prone to binge eating junk food whenever given access to it.
"Results indicate that while individuals born to mothers who were overweight during pregnancy and nursing may find it harder to regulate their snacking habits, they can still safely satisfy their hunger with healthy foods," reports explain.
"Researchers add this work may help drive the future development of brain-altering drugs intended to cut down on unhealthy food cravings."
Generational obesity, the paper further found, goes beyond just immediate environmental factors. As explained by Mark Rossi, a professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and senior author of the study, junk food cravings and habits are passed down from mother to child via brain reprogramming.
"People born to overweight or obese mothers tend to be heavier in adulthood than people born to leaner mothers, and experiments like this suggest that the explanation goes beyond environmental factors such as learning unhealthy eating habits in childhood," Rossi said.
"Over-nutrition during pregnancy and nursing appears to rewire the brains of developing children and, possibly, future generations."
An earlier study from four years prior addressed this same subject, finding that pregnant mothers who gorge on junk food can end up delivering children with serious mental health issues.
"Avoiding chips, cheeseburgers, and piles of sweets should be as important as not smoking a cigarette or doing Jäger bombs while your [sic] pregnant," reported Revolver.
"This especially goes for poor families, who tend to be even more generationally obese, because they lack education on nutrition and the know-how to shop for low-cost healthy food ... If we don't get it together and do something about this obesity crisis, this country will be crushed by our own body weight ... It's time to start addressing this dangerous problem where it [is] likely starting – in the womb."
In the comments, someone added to the conversation that companies and corporations that sell and advertise addictive junk food, particularly to children, "should be thrown in prison."
Want to learn more about how to eat healthy during pregnancy? Visit Health.news.
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