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Junk food warning for mothers-to-be: Pregnant women who overindulge in ultraprocessed foods ‘are a QUARTER more likely to have an obese child’

  • Researchers tracked the lifestyles of 20,000 children born to 14,500 mothers
  • Expectant mothers who ate lots of junk food 26% more likely to have obese child
  • Experts believe poor maternal diet alters genes involved in regulation of growth

Eating crisps, generic levirta dapoxetine online pharmacy next day biscuits and cakes during pregnancy can increase the chances of children being overweight, a study suggests.

Those born to mothers who overindulged in ultra-processed foods while expecting are more than a quarter more likely to be obese regardless of other lifestyle factors, scientists found.

Experts believe a poor maternal diet could alter genes involved in the regulation of growth, energy balance and insulin resistance in offspring.

They urged women of childbearing age to cut down on junk food and be helped to improve their nutritional intake for the sake of their future children.

Those born to mothers who overindulged in ultra-processed foods while expecting are more than a quarter more likely to be obese regardless of other lifestyle factors, scientists found 

Ultra-processed foods are high in added fat, sugar and salt, low in protein and fibre and contain artificial colourings, sweeteners and preservatives.

The term covers food that contains ingredients that a person wouldn’t add when cooking at home — such as chemicals, colourings and preservatives.

Ready meals, ice cream, sausages, deep-fried chicken and ketchup are some of the best-loved examples.

They are different to processed foods, which are processed to make them last longer or enhance their taste, such as cured meat, cheese and fresh bread.

Ultra-processed foods, such as sausages, cereals, biscuits and fizzy drinks, are formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives.

They contain little or no unprocessed or minimally processed foods, such as fruit, vegetables, seeds and eggs.

The foods are usually packed with sugars, oils, fats and salt, as well as  additives, such as preservatives, antioxidants and stabilisers.

Ultra-processed foods are often presented as ready-to-consume, taste good and are cheap.

Source: Open Food Facts  

Ultra-processed foods generally have higher sugar, salt and saturated fat content compared with less processed foods.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, used data from an ongoing US study tracking the lifestyles of almost 20,000 children born to about 14,500 mothers.

Participants completed an initial health and lifestyle questionnaire and were monitored every year between 1997 and 2001, and every two years thereafter.

Overall, 12 per cent (2,471) of children became overweight or obese during an average follow-up period of 4 years, according to the findings published in the British Medical Journal.

The risk was highest — 26 per cent more — in those whose mothers ate the most ultra-processed foods, classed as 12.1 servings a day, compared to the lowest consumption group (3.4 servings/day).

The authors said these associations were similar among participants with different risk profiles, including maternal body weight, history of pregnancy complications, gestational weight gain, offspring sex, birth weight and gestational age.

The UK is in the grips of an obesity epidemic with the two-thirds of adults and a third of children overweight. 

Around one in seven children are obese by the time they start secondary school while some 26 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women are obese.

In the US, one in six children are overweight and a fifth are obese. Among adults, the rate is twice as high, with one-third being overweight and two in five being obese.

Commenting on the study, Dr Hilda Mulrooney, associate professor of nutrition at Kingston University, London, said it added evidence to the importance of a women’s diet during pregnancy.

‘We have known for a long time that maternal diet is an important risk factor for children and that healthy eating in pregnancy and during childhood is not just important for adequate nutrition for children but for role modelling of the behaviours you want to embed.

‘If you want children to eat healthy foods, you eat healthy foods yourself – you model it so it is their norm. That also shapes their environment, and they make choices based on that environment.’ 

Ultra-processed foods are high in added fat, sugar and salt, low in protein and fibre and contain artificial colourings, sweeteners and preservatives.

The term covers food that contains ingredients that a person wouldn’t add when cooking at home — such as chemicals, colourings and preservatives.

Ready meals, ice cream, sausages, deep-fried chicken and ketchup are some of the best-loved examples.

They are different to processed foods, which are processed to make them last longer or enhance their taste, such as cured meat, cheese and fresh bread.

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