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Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2011 Sep;38(9):613-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05568.x.

Effects of a maternal diet supplemented with chocolate and fructose beverage during gestation and lactation on rat dams and their offspring.

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The National Center for Drug Screening and State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.


1. Consumption of a high-fat and high-energy diet during pregnancy leads to a risk of long-term consequences on fetal development, as well as on the postnatal health of offspring. To investigate the effects of such a diet on fetal programming, we established a high-energy intake pregnant rat model using chocolate and fructose beverage as supplements to a normal chow diet. 2. Pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were assigned to either chow (control) or a diet supplemented with chocolate and fructose beverage throughout gestation and lactation. The male F(1) pups received normal chow diet after weaning. Physiological or pathological changes in dams and pups (e.g. glucose and lipid metabolism) were evaluated. 3. The results showed that dams offered the high-fat (mainly from chocolate) and high-calorie diet during gestation consumed more energy and gained more weight than chow-fed dams. Over-consumption of chocolate reduced chow intake in dams, leading to low maternal protein supply. As a result, pups from these dams exhibited reduced birth weight that lasted until adulthood. The high-energy diet during lactation led to increased total body fat, as well as impaired liver function, in offspring; thus, the lactational diet is suggested to be a stronger determinant of offspring fat metabolism than gestational diet. 4. The results of the study suggest that over-supply of carbohydrates, such as chocolate and fructose, either during gestation or lactation has a negative impact on the well-being of offspring.

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