Moms who eat high-fat, sugary diets could make offspring vulnerable to alcohol and drug sensitivity

A predisposition to alcohol and drug abuse might start in the utero, according to findings presented at the American Psychological Association's (APA) 121st Annual Convention.

Rat studies showed that moms who eat fatty, sugary foods while pregnant could deliver babies that are more apt to be sensitive to drugs and alcohol later in life – suggesting that the same risks could hold true for human moms with poor eating habits.

Offspring show risky behaviors

Compared to rats whose mothers had eaten regular rodent chow, the offspring of moms who ate a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose and fat ended up weighing more as adults and drinking more alcohol. They also showed greater sensitivity to drugs like amphetamine.

The mother rats on the "junk food" diet ate about 50 percent fat, 25 percent carbohydrates and 25 percent protein, while the control diet rodent moms ate 25 percent fat, 50 percent carbohydrates and 25 percent protein.

No differences were seen in how much water or food the offspring of each group consumed as adults, but alcohol preferences were clearly different. Rats from the junk food moms also had higher levels of triglycerides – a type of fat that can increase risk for heart disease.

Wiring the reward system

Previous research has shown that reward system wiring can happen in the womb, meaning that how mom eats during pregnancy can determine the strength or weakness or her offspring's impulse control tendencies.

"Our findings suggest that even while [rats are] still in the womb, exposure to high-fat and sugar-rich diets can, in addition to increasing body weight, lead to a predisposition to drink alcohol and a sensitivity to drugs," said Nicole Avenda, Ph.D., a research neuroscientist with the University of Florida's McKnight Brain Institute.

Since obesity rates are climbing right alongside the prevalence of substance abuse, Avenda said the connection is worth exploring.

"The majority of women in the U.S. at child-bearing age are overweight, and this is most likely due to overeating the tasty, high-fat, high-sugar foods you find everywhere in our society," she said. "The rise in prenatal and childhood obesity and the rise in number of youth abusing alcohol and drugs merits looking into all the possible roots of these growing problems."

Source: American Psychological Association

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to InformationAboutDiabetes.com who may contact you with updates and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy.

More Articles

Limiting our intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole and lightly processed fare can boost our nutrient and fiber intake, lower...

Chamomile tea has long been prized for its calming properties, but few people realize it’s also beneficial for glucose regulation. Traditionally,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

There is nothing close to a one-size-fits-all exercise program for those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The best general advice is to...

More Articles

Keeping your blood sugar levels under control can be tough. There are so many factors that can affect blood sugar, like exercise, food, illness,...

Today, the healing benefits of essential oils are more than the claims of ancient tradition and alternative medicine. They are increasingly the...

Stomach aches and other gastrointestinal pains can be signs of a bigger problem. One such problem for diabetics is gastroparesis, or delayed...

Two of the most common symptoms of diabetes are increased thirst and increased urine production. These symptoms are so prevalent in diabetics that...

The different sugar content of fruits can be confusing when you are trying to manage your...

Most people with insulin-dependent diabetes use syringes and lancets every day. However, many of them do not know how to dispose of these...

Explaining diabetes to children can seem like a daunting task, but in reality, it is no more difficult than discussing anything else important....

Diabetes is a complex disease, affecting virtually every part of the body. The damage it does, to nerve endings, blood vessels, organs, and the...

People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have successfully competed in the Olympic Games. Their amazing stories prove that diabetes is no match for...

If your child has diabetes, you want him or her to be safe while in school and to have the same educational opportunities as other children....

Do not let pictures of yoga experts with their bodies twisted into bizarre, compact shapes fool you. Even people with stiff muscles, creaky joints...

The American Diabetes Association estimates that more than 7 million people in the United States have diabetes but don’t know it yet. These people...

While some celebrities aren't quick to talk about living with diabetes, others are quite transparent and inspiring - acting as advocates for the...

People with diabetes are about twice as likely to experience heart disease as those without the condition, making cardiovascular health a critical...

All diabetics know that maintaining proper blood sugar levels is the lifeline...