Flavor Learning In Utero and Its Implications for Future Obesity and Diabetes
- 1.3k Downloads
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.
KeywordsFlavor learning Prenatal nutrition Obesity prevention Diabetes prevention Health promotion In utero
No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •• Of major importance
- 2.Esposito L, Fisher JO, Mennella JA, Hoelsher DM, Huang TT. Developmental perspectives on nutrition and obesity from gestation to adolescence. Prev Chronic Dis 2009: 6(3). http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2009/jul09_0014.htm
- 4.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011). Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved July 11, 2011 @ http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data.
- 6.•• Beauchamp GK, Mennella JA. Early flavor learning and its impact on later feeding behavior. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2009; 48(Suppl 1): S25-S30. This is an excellent article that reviews the basic physiology of the chemical senses as they pertain to prenatal flavor learning.Google Scholar
- 7.Rosenzweig MR, Leiman AL, Breedlove SM. Biological Psychology: An introduction to behavioral, cognitive and clinical neuroscience (1999, 2nd ed.) Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
- 8.•• Todrank J, Heth G, Restrepo, D. Effects of in utero odorant exposure on neuroanatomical development of the olfactory bulb and odour preferences. Proc Biol Sci 2011 278(1714):1949–1955. This is an excellent study that describes specific neuroanatomical changes that occur with prenatal flavor learning in mice pups.Google Scholar
- 10.Blackburn ST. Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Physiology: A Clinical Perspective (2007, 3rd edition) St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.Google Scholar
- 11.Blackburn ST. Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Physiology: A Clinical Perspective (2003, 2nd edition) St. Louis, MO: Saunders Elsevier.Google Scholar
- 14.Trout KK, McGrath J, Flanagan J Costello M, Frey J. A pilot study to increase fruit and vegetable intake in pregnant Latina women. J Prim Care Community Health (2011, in press).Google Scholar
- 18.Yancey AK, Kumanyika SK, Ponce NA, McCarthy WJ, Fielding JE, Leslie JP, Akbar J. Population-based interventions engaging communities of color in healthy eating and active living: a review. Prev Chronic Dis 2004; 1(1)A09.Google Scholar
- 26.Zenk SN, Schulz AJ, Israel BA, James SA, Bao S, Wilson ML. Fruit and vegetable access differs by community racial composition and socioeconomic position in Detroit, Michigan. Eth Dis. 2006;16:275–80.Google Scholar
- 28.Hartweg DL, Isabelli-Garcia C. Health perceptions of low-income, immigrant Spanish speaking Latinas in the United States. Hisp Health Care Int. 2007;5(2):52–63.Google Scholar
- 31.Swindell J, McGuire A, Halpern S. Beneficent persuasion: techniques and ethical guidelines to improve patients’ decisions. Annals Fam Med. 2010;8(3):261–4.Google Scholar