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IMAGE: Fat content in fetal livers at the end of pregnancy from, A) fetus of a normal weight mother during pregnancy and B) fetus of an obese, overweight mother during pregnancy…. view more 

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New research published in The Journal of Physiology indicates that an obese pregnant mother and exposure to a high fat, high sugar diet during pregnancy produces a “fatty liver” in the fetus, potentially predisposing children to obesity, metabolic and cardiovascular disorders later in life. The research aims to understand the cellular mechanisms involved in laying down fat in the liver of a fetus – leading to a “fatty liver”. This knowledge is essential to developing strategies to combat childhood obesity.

Throughout the world over fifty percent of women of reproductive age are either overweight or obese. Obesity in pregnant women, combined with intake of high-fat, high-sugar diets during pregnancy predisposes their children to obesity and other chronic metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. These complications probably account for a significant proportion of the current epidemic of childhood obesity.

This research aimed to shed light on the mechanisms underlying this link between obese pregnant mothers and obesity in their child, called developmental programming, which is currently poorly understood. This study

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