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UB study finds early nutritional modification programs metabolism, predisposes to obesity

NEW ORLEANS -- Consuming a milk formula high in carbohydrates during the critical early weeks of postnatal life causes permanent changes in pancreatic islets and leads to overproduction of insulin and development of obesity in adulthood, University at Buffalo biochemists, working with rats, have found.

Furthermore, this "metabolic programming" carries through to the next generation. Offspring of first-generation high-carbohydrate-fed (HC) female rats developed hyperinsulinemia (high insulin levels) and obesity without any dietary modification. Mulchand Patel, Ph.D., UB professor of biochemistry and senior author on the study, presented results of his research here today (April 23) at the Experimental Biology 2002 meeting.

The study provides a new perspective on obesity, according to Patel.

"We are always looking at what happens later in life. Maybe we should be looking at the role of early metabolic programming," he said.

"The results from this study involving the high-carbohydrate-fed rat model suggest that what foods human babies are fed as newborns may contribute to metabolic programming, leading to adult-onset diseases such as obesity and diabetes," Patel said.

"Overfeeding of formula and early introduction of supplemental weaning foods such as cereals, fruits and juices that are high in carbohydrates may be the culprits."

Metabolic programming, sometimes called dietary patterning, isn't a new phenomenon. Epidemiologic studies of malnourished mothers, which showed that their babies often were underweight and at increased risk for several chronic diseases as adults, led to the public health emphasis on adequate nutrition during pregnancy. Several animal studies on maternal protein malnourishment or caloric restriction have shown that pre- and immediate postnatal nutritional modifications have long-term consequences on adult-onset diseases.

"Metabolic signals are reset in response to a high carbohy
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
756-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo
23-Apr-2002


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