New pregnancy research could cause another bump for food industry

By Karen WIllmer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Junk food, Nutrition

The snacks industry has taken another hit this week after
researchers suggest eating junk food during pregnancy and
breastfeeding may lead to obese offspring.

The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that rats fed doughnuts, muffins, biscuits, crisps and sweets during pregnancy and lactation gave birth to offspring that preferred these types of foods. This new research comes as the food industry is under pressure from the governmental campaigns to avoid the rising obesity crisis. "The government is trying to encourage healthier eating habits in schools, but our research shows that healthy eating habits need to start during the foetal and suckling life of an individual,"​ said Professor Stickland. "Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty-sugary treats on the misguided assumption that they are 'eating for two'." ​ The study suggests that this may be the reason why some people continue to crave junk food, even when given healthier foods later in their lives. The industry has recently been put under pressure to restrict its marketing to children, in order to pre-empt the implementation of new regulations. Kellogg's was the first to change its practices and introduce new nutritional criteria last month, however other companies such as Kraft and Coca-Cola also revealed new procedures. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the US held a forum last month to examine the food industry's marketing ractices to children, and to review the progress of actions taken so far to help combat childhood obesity. The rising demand for healthier snacks has already affected sales of chocolate biscuits in the UK, which fell 17 per cent to £353m in 2006 from £427m in 2001, according to a Mintel report earlier this month. However, healthier biscuits containing oats, honey and wholegrain grew 11.7 per cent between 2005 and 2006 alone, the report said. The researchers of this new study claim mothers should be made more aware of the risks of eating junk food, which could cause further implications for the snack industry. According to the World Health Organisation, 1.6bn people were overweight in 2005, and 400m were obese worldwide. Source: British Journal of Nutrition​ Published online August 15th​ 2007 "A maternal "junk food" diet in pregnancy and lactation promotes an exacerbated taste for 'junk food' and a greater propensity for obesity in rat offspring." ​Authors: SA Bayol, SJ Farrington, NC Stickland

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