Scientists Discover Surprising Pregnancy Effect of High-Fat Diet 2023


A healthy diet, especially during pregnancy, is well known. High-fat diets can damage metabolism, leading to obesity, diabetes, liver disease, and cancer. High-fat diets during pregnancy can impact offspring taste preferences and metabolism. Many families eat the same food.

Thus, mothers with high-fat diets tend to feed their children fatty foods. Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) researchers investigated the effects of high fat intake throughout pregnancy and early life in their Scientific Reports study.

The researchers examined the taste preference effects of two-generational (pregnant mother and young babies) high-fat diet exposure in rats. A control group had a conventional diet, while pregnant and lactating women received a high-fat diet. After weaning, babies from mothers fed a high-fat diet during pregnancy and those fed a standard diet continued on the same diet.

High-Fat Diet Has Unexpected Effect During Pregnancy

Young rats on high-fat diets gained weight and consumed more energy than those on regular diets. Senior author Takashi Ono wonders if the rats’ nutrition altered their taste preferences. Taste affects food intake. If something tastes nice, brain reward circuits engage and you consume more of it.”

A two-bottle challenge was used to assess rat preferences for bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and umami. High-fat-fed babies liked salty water. Unlike the standard-diet group, they did not favor different tastes.

Why this preference? Researchers examined salty taste proteins. The taste buds of high-fat-diet-exposed female offspring increased AT1 protein and gene expression. According to research author Saranya Serirukchutarungsee, this occurred three weeks after birth. AT1 is related with a liking for salty taste, and data suggests that it increases sodium absorption in taste bud cells.

Given the obvious links between diet and health, understanding offspring’s eating behavior and taste preferences is crucial. These discoveries can help reduce the risk of obesity and diet-related disorders including cardiovascular disease in kids and future generations.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan, and the Japanese Orthodontic Society supported the study.

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