Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hate to exercise? This might be why

Does the thought of running three miles or furiously pedaling your stationary bike for 20 minutes make you moan and groan and whine? If you hate to exercise, blame your mother.

At least, that's the word from researchers at Auckland University in New Zealand who have determined that when a fetus is undernourished during pregnancy he or she grows up to prefer a sedentary lifestyle, reports Britain's Guardian newspaper.

In other words, couch potatoes may be born and not self-made. Pass the TV remote, please.

The study: Pregnant rats were divided into two groups. One was undernourished throughout the pregnancy. The other had free access to food. The rats' weights and daily food intake were recorded throughout their pregnancies. After birth and weaning, the undernourished and well-fed male pups were each separated into two groups to be fed a standard diet or a high-calorie diet.

The results: The pups who were undernourished in the womb were significantly more sedentary after weaning, compared with the rats whose mothers had free access to food during pregnancy, leading researchers to conclude that abnormal eating and exercise behaviors could have been caused by the prenatal environment. What's more, when the sedentary pups were given a high-calorie diet, their sedentary behavior worsened and persisted as they aged.

What does this mean for humans? The Guardian notes that the unborn baby adapts to clues about the world beyond the womb--a world where there is not enough food--and adjusts physically to ensure its future survival. That is, if there isn't enough food in the womb, the fetus prepares itself by storing up fat, setting the stage for adult obesity. The researchers maintain that instead of spending public health dollars urging adults to exercise, the money should be spent on prenatal care. It could pay off big time decades later if it prevents metabolic and cardiovascular disorders in the next generation.

The study findings were reported in the journal of the American Physiological Society.
source: Netscape.com

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