A large section of the world is grappling with the issue over-eating, which is becoming one of the major reasons of obesity among the masses today.People who overeat or have atendency to binge into food every now and then, more than an average man/woman would have a clinical disorder called binge eating disorder (BED). People with BED compulsively eat large amounts of food in a short amount of time and feel a sense of guilt or shame afterwards. And they do so often: at least once a week over a period of at least 3 months, thus leading to obesity. So what triggers binge eating? While one may a point finger at one’s lifestyle habits, it could perhaps be a condition you inherited while you were in your mother’s womb.
A study conducted by Weizmann Institute in Israel, found that stress during pregnancy causes the female children born to exhibit binge-eating-like behaviour in adulthood. Stress is something that affects one and all in today’s time. One might be stressed because of work, studies or any sort of pressure. It is a response to pressure or threat, and when in stress one may feel nervous, tense or on edge. Stress can also lead to various health problems like depression, anxiety, heart diseases, blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. And stress during pregnancy can also affect the child’s well-being in the years to come.
For the study, the researchers genetically developed a line of mice, where they manipulated the hormone system that controls release of cortisol which is a stress hormone – to increase the anxiety levels of pregnant mothers during their third trimester, as mentioned in the Cell Metabolism journal.
As the eating habits of mice were measured, it was observed that mice born to stressed mothers tend to eat large amounts of food during short windows of time. But this surfaced only when they were placed in a stressful situation and where the researchers restricted their access to food.
“The price we pay later in life – whether it’s psychiatric disorders, metabolic syndromes, or heart-related illnesses – is heavily impacted by the way your brain was programmed early in life,” said Alon Chen, a neurobiologist at the institute.
The research also mentions that, when these young mice were put on a diet with “balanced” levels of nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and folate, the researchers were able to prevent their binge eating. The inference of the research is to avoid any type of stressful situation as much as possible during pregnancy as binge eating-related non genetic tags on their DNA.