Children may be more likely to need obesity treatment if their mother ate junk foods while pregnant, research has revealed.
A team of scientists at London's Royal Veterinary College found that rats tended to overeat and prefer fatty foods if their mother had been fed on doughnuts, biscuits and crisps prior to their birth.
Co-author and head researcher Professor Neil Stickland said that more should be done to raise awareness among pregnant and breastfeeding women, as many do not realise that they could harm their children by gorging on processed foods.
"Future mothers should be aware that pregnancy and lactation are not the time to over-indulge on fatty-sugary treats on the misguided assumption that they are 'eating for two'," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Stephanie Bayol, lead author of the paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, added that "eating large quantities of junk food when pregnant and breastfeeding…could send offspring on the road to obesity and make the task of teaching healthy eating habits in children even more challenging".