Pregnant women with diets high in fat could make their children obese in later life, reports the Indian Express.
A study into the fat content of pregnant primate diets revealed that a diet of 35% or more of calories coming from fat sources alters a key gene in the foetus, which regulates appetite rhythm.
The monkeys’ offspring in the Japanese study were also shown to be more likely to develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The key gene affected was Npas2, which regulates sleep and food intake.
Scientists found that improving the diet of the pregnant mother or the offspring partially helped towards getting the gene back to normal, lessoning the risk of childhood obesity.
“Now, we know why, and what a wake-up call for pregnant women! The mother’s diet during pregnancy affects their children’s sleep machinery via genetic machinery that controls the sleep cycle,” said Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal.
“We are enthusiastic that even small changes will translate into a lower chance for obesity in our next generation,” said lead researcher Kjersti Aagaard-Tillery.