Women who exercise during pregnancy could be less likely to have obese children, a new study into mice suggests.
Researchers found that offspring born to mice that exercised during pregnancy were less likely to gain weight after consuming a high-fat diet later in life.
“Based on our findings, we recommend that women – whether or not they are obese or have diabetes – exercise regularly during pregnancy because it benefits their children’s metabolic health,” said researcher Jun Seok Son, of the Washington State University.
First study of its kind
Previous studies have shown that exercise by obese females benefits their offspring, this is the first research to demonstrate that the same is true when non-obese females exercise.
He presented his findings at the American Physiological Society’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
The researchers examined the offspring of mice that performed 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every morning during pregnancy. Offspring born to mice that didn’t exercise were used as a control group.
Better at converting fat
© shironosovAt weaning, the offspring of the exercising mice showed increased levels of a tissue that converts fat and sugar into heat – known as brown adipose tissue compared to the control group. This type of tissue converts fat and sugar into heat, helping to keep the weight off.
The researchers also observed higher body temperatures in the exercise group, indicating that their brown adipose tissue was more efficient, further helping to prevent obesity.
After weaning, the offspring followed a high-fat diet for eight weeks. The mice in the exercise group not only gained less weight on the high-fat diet but also showed fewer symptoms of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and fatty liver disease.
“Our data suggest that the lack of exercise in healthy women during pregnancy can predispose their children to obesity and associated metabolic diseases,” Dr Son said.