Nurture, not nature, may play a greater role in childhood obesity as researchers have found that environment may be an equal (if not stronger) force in determining obesity compared to the mother’s diet. The results of this new study have been published in the journal Endocrinology.

Scientists from the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine fed two sets of female mice (who were mothers) either a high-fat or low-fat diet. The offspring were then given a diet high in fat, low in fat, or one in which a choice of foods was offered; those who had a choice or high- or low-fat foods showed an increase in body weight, body fat, and glucose levels whereas the offspring on the low-fat diet did not exhibit these changes. The mice on the diet with a choice of foods did have a higher energy expenditure vs. those on low- or high-fat diets as they wandered around and evaluated the foods offered.

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Although the study did not involve human subjects, the authors believe that a greater availability of low-fat foods that are priced competitively with high-fat and unhealthy foods can reduce the risk of obesity in babies born to overweight mothers to counter their prenatal environment.

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