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causes of obesity
food diets
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junk foods
gaining weight
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Rodents Might Shed Some Light On The Causes Of Obesity
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Two studies, performed with rodents may be key to learning why some people are predisposed to eating certain foods and gaining weight while others can avoid temptation with little or no problem. Those studies both suggest that the mechanisms for weight gain and food preferences may be programmed in our brains way before we are even born.

In the first study, performed by the Oregon Health and Science University Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, mice were fed either a high fat or regular diet during their pregnancy. At birth, the babies of all of the high fat mice were noted to have more body fat  and smaller livers than the babies of the mice that had been fed a regular diet during pregnancy.

In a repeat of the study, a third group was given the high fat diet at the beginning of their pregnancy but then switched to a lower fat diet during the later stages. The babies of those pregnancies had normal fat mass and normal sized livers.

In the second study, rats were used to determine if junk food diets during pregnancy would play a role in the development of the fetus and what role it would play as the offspring grew up. In that study, two groups of rats were given either a standard diet or one comprised of typical junk foods. Babies from both groups were either culled for further examination or weaned and moved into the second phase of the study. The culled mice were examined for brain changes, including checking the level of certain types of chemicals, namely dopamine and opioids. These are the feel good chemicals that are triggered when certain foods, beverages and drugs are used. Researchers found that the brains from the rats in the junk food group had much higher levels of dopamine.

The rat babies that were allowed to enter the second phase of the study, were allowed unlimited access to foods of both types, with no influence on the type of food that they choose. The rats whose mothers had eaten the regular diet during pregnancy chose the healthier, rat food while the junk fed babies ate the junk food.

Both studies conclude that certain habits and tastes are ingrained before birth, making healthier foods difficult to choose for some people. They also show that nutrition during pregnancy can dramatically influence a lifetime of health and health habits. When the mother gets too much or too little food during pregnancy, it can change the structure of the developing brain, liver and pancreas which can increase the chance of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of the women in America that are in their childbearing years are either overweight or obese.

Researchers are quick to point out that this is only one aspect of health and weight and should not be construed to be the only answer for the growing obesity epidemic in the country.

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