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Eating Badly When Pregnant Might Make Your Kid Fat

New research has found that addiction to junk food is like addiction to any other substance: Pregnant mothers who indulge can pass it on to their unborn children.

Along with boozing and smoking, add junk food to the list of vices pregnant women should avoid.

A new study out in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology suggests that pregnant moms who snack heavily on fatty and sugary food might find that their children end up having a harder time resisting junk food. The explanation is that those kids are born less sensitive to opioids—a chemical released when we snack on junk food, which creates the "feel good" sensation— so they end up eating more of it.

At least, this was the case in lab rats observed by researchers in Australia. Studies run on the pups of rats who were fed human junk food during pregnancy and lactation showed that pups’ opioid signaling pathways were less sensitive than pups in the control group (whose moms ate normal rat food).

"This study shows that addiction to junk food is true addiction." Gerald Weissmann, The FASEB Journal's editor-in-chief, said in a statement. "Junk food engages the same body chemistry as opium, morphine, or heroin. Sad to say, junk food during pregnancy turns the kids into junk food junkies."

While that language may be a bit extreme (the study was done on rats, not humans, after all), it follows in line with other recent studies linking poor health in offspring to junk-food consumption and obesity in mothers—both rodent and human ones.