A mom's junk food habit could lead to child's junk food addiction.
Pregnant women who eat junk food might increase the likelihood of their children becoming addicted to fast food, or other unhealthy eating habits.
The intake of junk food by their mothers changes the opioid signaling pathways in the brains of the unborn children.
The children become less sensitive to the release of opioids in the brain that are released when they consume food that has a high fat or sugar content.
A higher tolerance to junk food means that they have to eat more of it to get a good feeling caused by the release of dopamine.
Beverly Muhlausler, a researcher from the University of Adelaide in Australia looked at two groups of pregnant rats to determine the changes in brain function.
One group was fed rat food, and the other was fed human junk food.
The offspring of the rats who were fed junk food had opioid signaling pathways that were less sensitive than the other group.
Muhlausler said: “The results of this research will ultimately allow us to better inform pregnant women about the lasting effect their diet has on the development of their child's lifelong good preferences and risk of metabolic disease.”