Binge eating potato chips during pregnancy might be harmful for the foetus, finds study

Published in The Journal of Physiology, the findings found that eating a diet with three times the recommended daily intake of linoleic acid might be harmful in pregnancy.

Pregnant women should avoid eating too much vegetable oil and potato chips during pregnancy, says a new study. It indicates that such a diet may result in an increased risk of pregnancy complications and poor development of the foetus.

Notably, foods such as potato chips and vegetable oil contain omega 6 fats, particularly linoleic acid, and the research suggests that over-consumption can promote inflammation and may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Pregnant women are always advised about their eating habits because it has direct impact on the unborn child’s internal and external development.

“It is important for pregnant women to consider their diet, and our research is yet another example that potentially consuming too much of a certain type of nutrient can have a negative impact on the growing baby,” says study’s lead author Deanne Skelly, professor at Australia’s Griffith University.

Also Read: Binge eating may increase risks of various health conditions

In fact, hedonic hyperphagia is a scientific term for eating in excess for pleasure, rather than hunger, as per the American Chemical Society. It is connected to overeating that happens with everyone at some point of life and is considered as a key factor that leads to weight gain and obesity.

Published in The Journal of Physiology, the findings found that eating a diet with three times the recommended daily intake of linoleic acid might be harmful in pregnancy.

During the study, the research team fed rats for 10 weeks on a diet with high linoleic acid, mated them and then investigated the effects of the diet on their pregnancy and developing babies.

They found three changes in rat mothers who ate a high linoleic acid diet. While the liver had altered concentrations of inflammatory proteins in one stage; their circulating concentrations of a protein that can cause contraction of the uterus during pregnancy were increased in the second stage, and a hormone that can regulate growth and development was reduced in another.

The study observed that if the effects of high linoleic acid are the same in rats and humans, it would suggest that women of child-bearing age should consider reducing the amount of linoleic acid in their diet.

Rats typically give birth to multiple babies in each pregnancy. Rat mothers who ate a high linoleic acid diet had a reduced number of male babies, said the study.

Interestingly, according to a study conducted in 2013, people get attracted to chips and similar foods even when they are full because of the high ratio of fats and carbohydrates. These contents send a pleasing message to the brain or hedonic hyperphagia happens which further activates the senses and makes one feel tempted to eat more.

As part of an ingenious study to understand the logic of temptation for chips, a team at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Erlangen, Germany, tested a group of laboratory rats who were served potato chips, while the other group of rats were served bland old rat chow. Later, high-tech magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) devices were used to record the differences between the two groups.

The research findings suggested that the brain recorded almost all activities. But the food intake, sleep, and motion were calculated differently in those who ate potato chips and it further stimulated the hunger level even in case of being full.

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