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All parents want their children to have healthy teeth, which is why they should take them to the dentist regularly and make sure that they are practicing good dental health habits such as brushing their teeth and flossing properly. Good parents also need to make sure that their children follow a healthy diet that doesn't contain too much sugar, since sugar can act as a snack for bacteria in the mouth and increase children's risks of experiencing tooth decay.
Getting kids to ditch sugar-filled foods can be difficult considering that children tend to gravitate toward sweets. However, according to a recent study, one way that mothers may be able to help their children stay away from sugar is to avoid it during pregnancy. Researchers from the FOODplus Research Centre at the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia, have discovered that mothers who eat junk food during pregnancy have an increased risk of having children who are addicted to snacks.
A healthy diet from the start
To come to their conclusions, researchers examined two different groups of rodent babies. The first group was born to mothers that were fed a traditional, healthy diet for a rodent, while the other group had mothers that were given a range of human junk food during their pregnancies and while they were lactating. Once the babies were weaned, the scientists gave them daily injections of an opioid receptor blocker. This shot was meant to opioid signaling, which lowers the intake of sugar and fat in the body by preventing it from releasing dopamine.
The researchers discovered that this shot was less able to reduce fat and sugar intake in the babies born to mothers who were fed junk food compared to those who were not, which suggests that their bodies were addicted to the junk food.
"This study shows that addiction to junk food is true addiction," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the study. "Junk food engages the same body chemistry as opium, morphine or heroin. Sad to say, junk food during pregnancy turns the kids into junk food junkies."
Researcher Beverly Muhlhausler, Ph.D., of the University of Adelaide, added that she hopes these findings will encourage women to follow a healthy diet during pregnancy. Some women have a misconception that they can "eat whatever they want" during pregnancy, but this is untrue. Furthermore, studies have shown that many women gain more weight than they should while pregnant due to a poor diet. It's important for women to eat healthy meals and follow their doctor's weight advice while pregnant.
Get kids to eat less sugar
MOMeo Magazine has some suggestions for how parents can get kids to eat less sugar. For example, the magazine stated that one study showed that consuming fish may reduce cravings for sugar in the brain, and fish is an important part of a healthy diet, so parents should consider making sure their children eat more of it. Salmon in particular is a healthy fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so parents should make sure their kids consume it. Parents should consider making their own fish sticks for kids by coating fish in cornmeal and then baking them rather than frying them. They will still be delicious, but with far less fat than the traditional kind.
Also, parents should talk to their children about the dangers of sugar by explaining to them that sugar can harm their teeth and increase their risks of getting sick later in life. While kids may not understand the concept of diabetes or even obesity, parents can still explain that sugar is bad for their health.
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