Both maternal over- and undernutrition during gestation increase the adiposity of young adult progeny in rats

Obes Res. 1995 Mar;3(2):131-41. doi: 10.1002/j.1550-8528.1995.tb00130.x.


We examined the influence of maternal diet during gestation on the growth and body composition of the progeny. On day 1 of gestation, rat dams were assigned to one of four feeding regimens: free access to standard rodent chow throughout gestation (AL); 20 g feed/day (prebreeding intake) throughout gestation (PB); 10 g feed/day from day 1 to day 14, then ad libitum from day 15 to parturition (RAL); 10 g feed/day from day 1 to 14, then 20 g/day to parturition (RPB). Progeny were fed ad libitum on standard chow diet from 3 to 12 weeks of age; food intake and weight gain were measured over this time. Body composition was measured at 12 weeks. The PB regimen restricted maternal food intake during the third trimester only; the RAL regimen restricted intake by 50% for two trimesters and produced hyperphagia in the third; the RPB regimen restricted intake by 50% for two trimesters, then intake (per unit body weight) was similar to that of AL dams during the third trimester. Litter size and progeny birth, weaning, and 12-week body weights were similar among the four groups. At 12 weeks of age, PB progeny had the highest body fat (per kg fat-free mass), despite similar feed intake during the 9-week postweaning period. The increased fat was proportionally distributed among intra-abdominal and subcutaneous depots. Progeny of RAL, AL, and RPB dams had similar amounts of body fat, but in RAL progeny more fat was present in intra-abdominal depots. The weights of fat-free mass, gastrointestinal tract and hindlimb skeletal muscles were unaffected by maternal diet. Restriction of maternal feed intake during the third week of gestation had subtle effects on the body composition of young adult progeny that could not be explained on the basis of differences in postweaning voluntary feed intake.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Adipose Tissue*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Animals
  • Body Composition*
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Food Deprivation
  • Gestational Age
  • Hyperphagia
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Weaning
  • Weight Gain