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Obesity is a health issue that is affecting an ever-increasing number of people around the world. Increasing obesity rates are particularly troubling because much evidence has been reported that maternal diet before and during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of obesity in the next generation, through epigenetic and obesity-related developmental changes. Extremely low fat maternal diets have also been shown to have transgenerational effects on health, including evidence for a “thrifty phenotype” hypothesis that supposes the intrauterine conditions prepare the offspring for the outside world based on the nutritional environment available during fetal development; therefore, offspring exposed to low fat intrauterine environments but much higher fat diets outside of this environment are more at risk for obesity and other metabolic dysfunction. In order to test the transgenerational relationship between maternal diet and offspring health, Danio rerio females were fed either a high fat diet (HFD), control diet, or low fat diet (LFD) for several months and crossed with males on the control diet. This study reports that significant differences in offspring early motor behaviour were observed were observed in offspring sired from HFD and LFD mothers, both from the control and from each other. These results indicate possible effects on skeletal muscle and neural development. Significant differences in appetite were also observed between control and HFD, and between HFD and LFD. These results may indicate changes in the secretion of satiety-related hormones in these offspring. HFD and LFD females also showed evidence of decreased fertility and increased offspring mortality rates. These data indicate that maternal diet before and during pregnancy may have far reaching effects on the development and general health of the offspring.
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Dothard, Marisol Imani, "Nutrition, Thrift, and Metabolism: The Transgenerational Effects of Maternal Diet on Danio rerio" (2017). Senior Projects Spring 2017. 117.