Stress early in life leads to adulthood anxiety and preference for ‘comfort foods’

July 30, 2013 — Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, suggests that exposure to stress in the first few days of life increases stress responses, anxiety and the consumption of palatable “comfort” foods in adulthood.Share This:”Comfort foods” have been defined as the foods eaten in response to emotional stress, and are suggested to contribute to the obesity epidemic. Hormonal responses to chronic stress in adulthood seem to play a role in the increased preference for this type of food, especially in women.In this study, we aimed at verifying if an exposure to stress very early during development could also lead to increased consumption of comfort food in adult life, and if increased anxiety and stress responses were persistently affected by early adversity. Litters of rats were subjected to a protocol of reduced nesting material (Early-Life Stress) or standard care (Controls), in the first days of life. In adulthood, behavioral anxiety and stress reaction were measured. Preference for comfort food was measured over four days in a computerized system, in which the mean intake over approximately every second is calculated by a peripheral computer (BioDaq, Research Diets).Early-Life Stress increased adulthood anxiety, increased the hormonal response to stress (corticosterone) and increased the preference for comfort foods, even after a period of chronic exposure to this type of food.”To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that comfort food preference could be enhanced by such an early stress exposure,” says lead researcher Tania Machado. The anxiety and altered food preferences seen in these rats exposed to neonatal adversity can be related to the described changes in the hormonal response to stress. Therefore, in neonatally stressed rats, a greater consumption of “comfort foods” is possibly used as a way to alleviate anxiety symptoms (self-medication). Future studies in this area may have implications for primary care on childhood nutrition in vulnerable populations (e.g. low birth weight or children with a history of neonatal adversities).Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. …

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A maternal junk food diet alters development of opioid pathway in the offspring

July 30, 2013 — Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, shows that eating a junk-food diet during pregnancy changes the development of the opioid signalling pathway in the baby’s brain and permanently alters the way this system operates after birth.Share This:Opioids are chemicals which are released when we eat foods that are high in fat and sugar, and that are responsible for causing the release of another ‘feel good’ chemical, dopamine. The researchers found that the gene encoding one of the key endogenous opioids, enkephalin, was expressed at a higher level in the offspring of mothers who had consumed a junk food diet than in the offspring of mothers who ate standard rat feed. This increase in enkephalin, together with previous work done by this research group which showed that an opioid receptor blocker was less effective at reducing fat and sugar intake in the pups of the junk-food fed mothers, provides evidence for the first time that the opioid signalling pathway is less sensitive in junk-food exposed offspring.Being less sensitive to opioids means that individuals whose mothers eat excessive quantities of junk-food during pregnancy and breastfeeding, would have to eat more junk foods get the same ‘feel good’ response, and this would make them more likely to over consume these high-fat, high-sugar foods. Jessica Gugusheff from the FoodPlus research centre at the University of Adelaide, the graduate student leading this research, says that “the results of this studywill eventually permit us to better inform pregnant women about the enduring effect their diet has on the development of their child’s lifelong food preferences and risk of negative metabolic outcomes.”Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:|Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above. Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats: APA MLA Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

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