Flavor Learning In Utero and Its Implications for Future Obesity and Diabetes
The concept of prenatal flavor learning can be used to motivate women to eat healthy foods. The flavors of the foods in the maternal diet are found in the amniotic fluid swallowed by the fetus, with the fetus developing a preference for those flavors that is shown to persist in infancy. Furthermore, flavor preferences in infancy can persist into childhood and even into adulthood. Thus, the intrauterine environment may have a life-long influence on flavor preferences and healthy eating. This is an empowering concept for a pregnant woman: her baby will develop a preference for what she eats. However, education alone about this concept may not be sufficient to motivate behavior change. The evidence for health promotion strategies demonstrated to be effective in pregnancy is presented here, along with associated implications for prenatal flavor learning and the prevention of obesity and diabetes.