Junk food is not confined to youngsters or teenagers but some women in particular can’t say no to it, while some men could reverse their addiction, found a new study by Australian researchers.
The new research found that eating a healthy diet during adolescence could reverse the junk-food cravings in males but not in females, according to its findings published in the FASEB Journal that also showed that intensity of junk food cravings depends a lot on mother’s diet during late pregnancy.
“We have found differences between males and females. Our experiments showed that eating a healthy diet during adolescence could reverse the junk-food preference in males but not females,” said Jessica Gugusheff, post-doctoral researcher at University of Adelaide in Australia.
The preference for the junk food, it is believed, results from a de-sensitisation of the normal reward system (the opioid and dopamine signalling pathway) fuelled by highly palatable high fat, high sugar diets.
Offspring with less sensitive reward systems need more fat and sugar to get the same “good feeling”, hence their craving for junk food, said researchers.
“This brain area grows at its fastest during these critical windows and is therefore most susceptible to alteration at these times,” says another scientist Beverly Mühlhäusler from University of Adelaide.
Their research further suggests that too much junk food consumed late in pregnancy for humans has the potential to be more harmful to the child than excess junk food early in the pregnancy, according to Gugusheff.
“It also indicates that if excess junk food was consumed by the mother in those early stages of pregnancy, there may be a chance to reduce those negative effects on the baby by eating a healthy diet in late pregnancy,” Gugusheff added.