Control those cravings - for you and your baby!

New research suggests that a craving for junk food can begin before a baby is born. Is it time to finally ditch the idea that if you’re pregnant you should be eating for two?

Over-indulge - and junior may end up with a sweet tooth!

Mothers beware! If you’re using pregnancy as an excuse to fill yourself full of cakes, crisps and other sweet things, you may be storing up trouble for the future.

New research suggests that mothers who eat junk food while they’re pregnant and breastfeeding, may be putting their children at risk of obesity later in life. Spoiling yourself with fatty or sugary foods could be a recipe for possible disaster.

“The Government is trying to encourage healthier eating habits in schools, but our research shows that healthy eating habits need to start during the foetal and suckling life of an individual," says Professor Neil Stickland, co-author of the study, which is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty, sugary treats on the misguided assumption that they are 'eating for two'.


The new research looked at rats fed a diet of processed junk food such as doughnuts, biscuits, crisps and sweets during pregnancy and lactation. They then gave birth to babies who had a preference for junk foods rich in sugar, fat and salt, compared to the offspring of rats who had been fed on a normal diet. The researchers are convinced their research has implications for humans too.

“Our study has shown that eating large quantities of junk food when pregnant and breastfeeding could impair the normal control of appetite and promote an exacerbated taste for junk food in offspring,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Stephanie Bayol. “This could send offspring on the road to obesity and make the task of teaching healthy eating habits in children even more challenging.”

Obesity dangers

As many parents will know, obesity is a major cause of disease, and can lead to health problems including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. It is growing yearly among children, with rates trebling over the last twenty years.

This research suggests that a propensity to obesity could be “caused” by a mother’s diet. Being exposed to “unhealthy” foods while in the womb or breastfeeding could make it difficult for a person to control their junk food intake later in life. The mother’s food choices are almost “programming” the child’s, passing on that sweet tooth.

Supernanny’s expert nutritionist, Yvonne Wake, says that she isn’t surprised by the new research.
“It’s time we moved on from the old fashioned sayings like ‘Eat for two when you’re pregnant,’” she says. “People should eat healthily before they’re pregnant and not change their diet while they are pregnant. You don’t suddenly want to become an unhealthy eater.

“It’s important not to use pregnancy as an excuse to stuff yourself with junk. This research shows that if a mother does so, it’s not only unhealthy for them, but for their babies too.”

Related links

Protect Your Child From Obesity: Around 2.4 million British children are overweight or obese. How can you avoid dangerous food habits and stop your child from becoming another statistic?

Hidden Nasties - food facts you need to know: We all want to feed our kids the best, but how can you really know what's in the food we eat? Supernanny's Nutritionist Yvonne Wake blasts the myths about salt, sugar and fat.

The truth about those pregnancy myths: Judging from what you hear in pregnancy, you’d think those old wives spent the whole day thinking up new ways to worry you. Is there truth in any of those pregnancy myths and rumours

Breastfeeding: we reply to Your questions: There’s no doubt breast milk gives your baby the best start in life, but it isn’t without its challenges, as these mums’ questions demonstrate!

Find out more

The British Journal of Nutrition

Eating while pregnant - Choosing food to keep you and your baby healthy: contains Government advice

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