A long-term maternal diet intervention to avoid the obesogenic effect in the offspring
The American Heart Association states that obesity among girls and women has generated a vicious cycle that contributes to the obesity epidemic. Studies into maternal overnutrition have found that high-fat diets in humans (which reflects the western diet), whereby the baby is exposed to over-nutrition during gestation, have increased risks of obesity, diabetes and other complications. In this study, published in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, the diets of pregnant mice are varied to see whether they can prevent obesity related disease in the offspring, regardless of the weight-management of the mother.
The researchers transitioned the mice to normal fat (NF) diet 1 week, 5 weeks and 9 weeks before conception and continued this throughout gestation and lactation. After this, the offspring were given a high-fat diet for 12 weeks then sacrificed. They found that the mice whose parent had the NF diet for 9 weeks had a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes and other complications, regardless of maternal weight, suggesting a metabolic memory in the offspring that can be improved. Although the metabolic profiles of mice and humans are vastly different, the ease of access and economy of lifestyle interventions mean that a strategy to improve maternal diet for a period before conception, may be able to help prevent multi-generational obesity.