Food and Behaviour Research

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Maternal obesity is necessary for programming effect of high-fat diet on offspring

White CL, Purpera MN, Morrison CD. (2009) Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.  296(5) R1464-72. Epub 2009 Feb 25. 

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We tested the hypothesis that maternal consumption of dietary fat, independent from obesity, increases serum leptin in neonatal pups and predisposes them to adult obesity.

Female rats either were fed a high-fat (HF) diet or a low-fat (LF) diet or were fed the HF diet but pair fed (PF) to the caloric intake of the LF group for 4 wk before breeding and throughout gestation and lactation.

Dams consuming the HF diet had increased adiposity and were hyperphagic. At weaning, pups born to obese dams had significantly higher body fat and serum leptin levels and reduced insulin tolerance compared with offspring of LF-fed dams.

Pups were weaned onto a chow diet until 8 wk of age, when they were then fed either HF or LF diet.

At 18 wk of age, offspring from obese HF dams weighed more than offspring from nonobese LF or PF dams, and offspring eating HF diet weighed significantly more than those eating LF diet.

Consequently, HF-fed offspring of obese HF dams weighed the most and LF-fed offspring from obese HF dams were similar in weight to HF-fed offspring from nonobese LF dams.

These data suggest that maternal obesity exerts an independent effect on offspring body weight that is of similar magnitude as the effect of the offspring's adult diet. Furthermore, there was no difference in body weight between the nonobese LF and PF offspring on either diet.

Together, these data suggest that maternal adiposity, and not dietary fat per se, induces hyperleptinemia and insulin resistance in offspring, as well as an increased body weight that persists into adulthood.