Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Too Much Junk Food During Pregnancy Tied to Junk Food Addiction in Children

Pregnant women, beware! A new study suggests gorging on salty, sugary and fatty food may result in junk food addiction in children.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in Australia warn pregnant women to cut down on their junk food intake — or they could pass on their cravings to their unborn children.

The study, published in the March 2013 issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, found that pregnant women who consume excessive amounts of junk food can cause changes in their unborn children’s opioid signaling pathway, which results in babies being born with a high tolerance to salt, fats, and sugars, according to a Medical Daily report.

“The results of this research will ultimately allow us to better inform pregnant women about the lasting effect their diet has on the development of their child’s lifelong food preferences and risk of metabolic disease,” said lead researcher Dr. Beverly Muhlhausler.

While opioids are naturally released in the brain, junk food consumption leads to opioid surges that gives high feelings of pleasure, which a person can easily become addicted to. The researchers’ conclusion was based from their study on pregnant rats fed with normal rat food and junk food high in fats and sugars throughout pregnancy and lactation.

Dr. Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, said in a statement the study only shows that junk food addiction is true addiction and therefore should not be taken lightly. “Junk food engages the same body chemistry as opium, morphine or heroin. Sad to say, junk food during pregnancy turns the kids into junk food junkies,” he added.

Past research highlighted the ill effects of too much junk food not only in children but also in adults, which include obesity and heart diseases. The researchers hope their study encourages pregnant women to stick to healthier diet choices to ensure healthier kids.

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