Junk food junkies have someone else to blame for their craving for overly salty, sugary, or fatty food — Mom. A new Australian study suggests that pregnant women who eat too much junk food will pass the cravings on to their children, according to Ashik Siddique for Medical News Daily.
The lead researcher for the study published in the March issue of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal, Dr. Beverly Muhlhausler, told Siddique:
“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 good preferences and risk of metabolic disease.”
When you translate the medicalese into Mom-speak, I’m pretty sure that the good doctor is saying that pregnant women can expect their obstetricians to “inform” them that they need to cut down or eliminate junk food from their diet when they’re expecting. Women are already told that they need to cut out smoking and drinking. In fact, we reported on a new study yesterday which suggested that a woman who smokes can pass on the tendency to develop asthma not just to her own unborn child but also to her grandchildren.
The trouble with applying the results of the new study is that pregnant women are strongly susceptible to food cravings that they may not be able to control. Baby Center has said that at least half of US women report food cravings when they’re pregnant, and the cravings aren’t usually for particularly healthy food.
Elizabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, told Baby Center, “If people craved what the body needs, we would all eat more broccoli and less chocolate.”
Elizabeth Ward for WebMD said that the food cravings “are in a class by themselves,” a result of the normal hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. She suggested that mothers-to-be cope by such tactics as creating lower-fat versions of the foods they crave or choosing to consume smaller quantities. “Try satisfying a candy urge with a fun-size bar instead of the king size,” she suggested.
But will the tactics actually work? Recent science has confirmed that junk food addiction is very real.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be addiction if you could just shrug your shoulders and walk away from the temptation.
Dr. Muhlhausler’s new study, conducted on rats, showed that if the mother eats junk food while pregnant and nursing, the youngsters will have changes in their brain chemistry that make them more susceptible to junk food addiction.
The editor-in-chief of FASEB’s journal, Dr. Gerald Weissmann, drew a strong conclusion: “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.”