Taking antioxidants during pregnancy ‘prevents obesity in kids’

March 15th, 2011 - 3:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 15 (ANI): Women who take antioxidants before and during their pregnancies may be protecting their offspring against obesity and diabetes, according to a new study on animals.

Noting that a high-fat, high-carbohydrate diet causes oxidative stress during pregnancy, predisposing the offspring to obesity and diabetes, researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia decided to study the effect of antioxidants before and during pregnancy in rats.

If the results in animals prove to be similar in humans, the research may have implications for reducing obesity rates in children.

“We already know that there are critical periods during human development that influence the later development of obesity,” said senior author and neonatologist Rebecca A. Simmons.

“This research suggests that if we can prevent inflammation and oxidative stress during pregnancy, we may lower the risk that a child will develop obesity,” she added.

The current study tested the hypothesis that a high-fat diet during pregnancy increases oxidative stress and leads to obesity in the offspring of animals.

Simmons and co-author Sarbattama Sen also investigated whether supplementing the animals’ diet with antioxidants would prevent obesity in the offspring.

They simulated a Western-style diet by feeding high fat, high-carbohydrate chow to one group of rats, compared to a control group fed a more balanced diet.

In two other groups (one fed a Western diet, the other fed a control diet), the researchers added antioxidant vitamins.

Among the rats that ate only the Western diet, the offspring had significantly higher measures of inflammation and oxidative stress, and as early as two weeks of age, were significantly fatter, with impaired glucose tolerance compared to control rats.

However, rats eating the Western diet plus antioxidants had offspring with significantly lower oxidative stress, as well as no obesity and significantly better glucose tolerance.

The effects persisted at two months of age.

“These results suggest that if we prevent obesity, inflammation and oxidative stress in pregnant animals, we can prevent obesity in the offspring,” said Simmons.

She, however, cautioned that whether pregnant or not, women should certainly not consume large doses of antioxidant vitamins.

The study has been published in the journal Diabetes. (ANI)

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