Evidence that a maternal "junk food" diet during pregnancy and lactation can reduce muscle force in offspring

Bayol, S A M and Macharia, R G and Farrington, S J and Simbi, B H and Stickland, N C (2009) Evidence that a maternal "junk food" diet during pregnancy and lactation can reduce muscle force in offspring. UNSPECIFIED.

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Obesity is a multi-factorial condition generally attributed to an unbalanced diet and lack of exercise. Recent evidence suggests that maternal malnutrition during pregnancy and lactation can also contribute to the development of obesity in offspring. We have developed an animal model in rats to examine the effects of maternal overeating on a westernised "junk food" diet using palatable processed foods rich in fat, sugar and salt designed for human consumption. Using this model, we have shown that such a maternal diet can promote overeating and a greater preference for junk food in offspring at the end of adolescence. The maternal junk food diet also promoted adiposity and muscle atrophy at weaning. Impaired muscle development may permanently affect the function of this tissue including its ability to generate force. The aim of this study is to determine whether a maternal junk food diet can impair muscle force generation in offspring. Twitch and tetanic tensions were measured in offspring fed either chow alone (C) or with a junk food diet (J) during gestation, lactation and/or post-weaning up to the end of adolescence such that three groups of offspring were used, namely the CCC, JJC and JJJ groups. We show that adult offspring from mothers fed the junk food diet in pregnancy and lactation display reduced muscle force (both specific twitch and tetanic tensions) regardless of the post-weaning diet compared with offspring from mothers fed a balanced diet. Maternal malnutrition can influence muscle force production in offspring which may affect an individual's ability to exercise and thereby combat obesity.

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