Tokyo [Japan] : Everyone understands the significance of eating a nutritious diet, particularly while pregnant. The metabolism is drastically impacted by a high-fat diet. Obesity, diabetes, chronic liver disease, and perhaps even cancer can result from it.
Previous studies have shown that eating a lot of fat during pregnant impacts the baby’s metabolism and taste preferences. In most homes, both parents and kids eat the same meals. In other words, mothers who consume a lot of fat will probably give their kids fattening foods. What effects do high fat diets throughout pregnancy and early life have on the offspring?
In a study that was published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) looked into this. The impact of exposing two generations (a pregnant woman and a young baby) to a high-fat diet on taste preferences was examined using a rat model. Females who were pregnant or nursing were given a high-fat diet, while a control group was given a typical diet. The newborns from mothers who consumed high-fat diets during pregnancy and those who consumed standard diets during pregnancy continued to consume high-fat diets and standard diets, respectively, after weaning.
Young rats from the high-fat diet groups gained more weight and consumed more energy than their counterparts from the standard diet groups. ‘We wondered if the different diets had affected the taste preferences of the rats,’ explains Takashi Ono, senior author.
‘It is well established that taste impacts food intake. If something tastes good, the brain reward circuits are activated, and you will likely eat more of it.’ The researchers tested the animal preference for the five basic tastes: bitter, sour, salty, sweet, and umami, using a two-bottle challenge, in which two bottles – one containing water and the other one water with taste – were added to the rat cage. Offspring exposed to a high-fat diet during gestation and early life preferred salty water. In contrast, they showed no specific preference for the other tastes when compared with the standard-diet group. What mechanisms underlie this preference?
The researchers investigated the levels of proteins involved in perceiving the salty taste. ‘The protein and gene expression of AT1 increased in the taste buds of female offspring exposed to a high-fat diet. This happened as early as three weeks after birth,’ explains Saranya Serirukchutarungsee, lead author of the study. ‘AT1 is known to be associated with a preference for salty taste and evidence suggests that it is likely that AT1 affects the salty taste preference by increasing sodium intake in taste bud cells.’
Better understanding of the programming of offspring’s eating behaviour and taste preferences is vital when considering the strong links between poor diet and poor health.
These findings provide a crucial first step that can lead to further studies aimed at reducing the risk of developing obesity and diet-linked diseases, such as cardiovascular disease in offspring and subsequent generations.