Maternal Obesity Linked to Obesity in Offspring in Rats

July 21, 2008

Offspring of obese mother rats or those overfed after birth are considerably heavier and are more likely to be fatter, glucose intolerant, have high lipid levels and have changes in appetite hormones, according to study findings published online July 17 in Endocrinology.

MONDAY, July 21 (HealthDay News) -- Offspring of obese mother rats or those overfed after birth are considerably heavier and are more likely to be fatter, glucose intolerant, have high lipid levels and have changes in appetite hormones, according to study findings published online July 17 in Endocrinology.

Hui Chen, from the University of New South Wales in Australia, and colleagues exposed female rats to a normal or high-fat diet five weeks before mating and throughout gestation and lactation. Litters were adjusted to three per litter after birth to induce overfeeding.

The researchers found that 20 days after birth, males born to obese mothers or those overfed after birth were 42 percent heavier, while males with both conditions were 80 percent heavier. Offspring of obese mothers were fatter and glucose intolerant, which worsened by overfeeding during lactation. These offspring also had high lipid levels and changes in hypothalamic appetite regulators.

"Maternal overnutrition appears to alter central appetite circuits and promotes early-onset obesity; postnatal overnutrition interacted to cause peripheral lipid and glucose metabolic disorders, supporting the critical message to reduce early life adverse nutritional impact," Chen and colleagues conclude.

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