An eye opener for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers into the benefits of healthy eating or the repercussions of eating unhealthy could show up as life long benefits or permanent health issues in their children. The effects of faulty eating during pregnancy and lactation could cause elevated cholesterol, obesity and increased risk of diabetes in children.
This finding was revealed after a study conducted on rats thought to have a similar effect on humans, coinciding with the observations made earlier about obese parents producing obese kids.
Dr Bayol and colleague Professor Neil Stickland made a study of the offsprings born to rats that ate a diet consisting of sweets, crisps, doughnuts, and muffins during pregnancy and lactation. The offsprings of such well fed rats were compared with the offsprings of rats who were on a normal and healthy diet.
The rats which were fed on a rich diet had offsprings with increased levels of cholesterol, and increased levels of glucose and insulin. Even if such rats were raised on healthy diets, it did not make too much of a difference and they continued to have health problems well beyond adolescence.
Such offsprings continued to be fat compared to offsprings of rats who had eaten healthy. The risk of staying unhealthy was more for the female offsprings as they seemed to produce increased levels of glucose and a hormone called leptin, which increased their appetite. This increased their chances of obesity as compared to their male siblings.
Dr Stephanie Bayol 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."