Maternal Fructose Intake Increases Obesity Risk in Offspring

OK, the moms in this study were actually suckling Sprague-Dawley rats and the offspring were rat pups that grew into obese adult rats – but the principle here is that, as blogged before, maternal lifestyle before, during and in the early post-natal period can have a lifelong impact on the next generation.

In this study by Minh Huynh from the University of Alberta, Edmonton, just published in OBESITY, pups were randomly assigned to one of four diets: suckle controls (SCs), rat milk substitute formula (Rat Milk Substitute), fructose-containing formula (Fructose), or galactose-containing formula (Galactose).

Starting at weaning, pups received the same diet until animals were 12 weeks old. At weeks 8 and 10 not only did the Fructose rats weigh more than the control rats, but they also had more insulin resistance and increased fatty acid uptake in skeletal muscle.

There are two important aspects to this study:

1. At least in rats, being suckled by a mother on a high-fructose diet results in lifelong changes in body weight, insulin sensitivty and muscle fatty acid transport.

2. Even more importantly, this study clearly supports the notion that the suckling period (= breast feeding in humans) is a “critical” period during which nutritional intake in the mother may permanently “program” metabolism to promote increased adult body weight and insulin resistance in later life.

On a positive note, the fact that early post-natal programing appears to be a crucial biological mechanism in obesity risk may well provide a window of opportunity for the prevention of childhood (and adult) obesity that has yet to be fully explored.

Edmonton, Alberta