Researchers have identified two critical windows where junk food craving can be turned around. Scientists at the University of Adelaide prove that there may be a chance to turn around this junk food addiction in two critical windows-equating to late pregnancy and in adolescence in humans.
Dr. Jessica Gugusheff, researcher in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, said that their research suggested that too much junk food consumed late in pregnancy for humans has the potential to be more harmful to the child than excess junk food early in the pregnancy.
It also indicated that if excess junk food was consumed by the mother in those early stages of pregnancy, there may be a chance to reduce those negative effects on the baby by eating a healthy diet in late pregnancy.
The second critical window was adolescence, where experiments showed that eating a healthy diet during adolescence could reverse the junk-food preference in males but not females.
The junk food preference is believed to result from a desensitization of the normal reward system (the opioid and dopamine signaling pathway) fuelled by highly palatable high fat, high sugar diets. Offspring with less sensitive reward systems need more fat and sugar to get the same "good feeling".
The researchers believe their work will ultimately allow pregnant women to be better informed about the lasting effect their diet has on the development of their child's life-long food preferences.