High Fructose Diet During Pregnancy Predisposes Children to Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Antonio Saad, MD Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Dr. Antonio Saad

Antonio Saad, MD
Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine & Critical Care Medicine
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Saad: Recently the WHO announced an alarming news, the prevalence of diabetes has increased four fold in the past quarter-century. The major factors attributed for this increase included excessive weight, and obesity. In the US alone, two thirds of people are either overweight or obese. There are shocking numbers that should alert physicians, patients and government officials for awareness and interventions that we can alter the path away from this drastic epidemic.

In light of recent events, our group strongly believes that poor diet during pregnancy predisposes offspring in adult life to develop obesity and diabetes through fetal programming. High fructose introduction into our food chain has coincided with the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Hence, we designed an animal study where we fed pregnant mice with either regular diet or high fructose diet until delivery. Then we looked at the offspring, at 12 months of age. We looked at  their blood pressure, glucose tolerance tests, insulin resistance,  and weights. We also tested for serum marker of metabolic dysfunction and used computed tomography imaging to assess for liver fat infiltration and percent visceral adipose tissue. To our surprise, these offspring (mothers were fed high fructose diet) developed several features of metabolic syndrome.  Female offspring’s cardiovascular and metabolic function at one year of age (adulthood) had increased weight, blood pressure, visceral adiposity, liver fat infiltrates and  insulin resistance with impaired glucose tolerance).  The  male counterparts were limited to high blood pressure  and glucose intolerance. Keeping in mind that the amount of fructose given to these animals were equivalent to daily soda cans consumption in humans.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Saad: Clinicians and patients should be educated and aware that a poor maternal diet ( high in refined sugars such as fructose) has a detrimental impact on offspring’s health. Offspring are more likely to develop obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We recommend to limit fructose intake during pregnancy such as < 5% of total calories or less than 100 calories per day as already announced by the American Heart association statement in the non-pregnant population.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Saad: Human studies should be carried in order to elucidate this link, interventional and observational. Future studies are needed focusing on the effect of fructose on placental transport and on the inflammatory/ epigenetic changes that may elucidate the metabolic mechanism of fructose exposure on the adverse effects in the offspring. Our group is currently working on retrospective and prospective studies in pregnant women in order to validate our findings in the current animal study.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.


Antonio F. Saad, Joshua Dickerson, Talar B. Kechichian, Huaizhi Yin, Phyllis Gamble, Ashley Salazar, Igor Patrikeev, Massoud Motamedi, George R. Saade, Maged M. Costantine. High-fructose diet in pregnancy leads to fetal programming of hypertension, insulin resistance, and obesity in adult offspring. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2016.03.038


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Last Updated on April 21, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD