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Exercise Prevents Obesity Due to Prenatal Undernutrition

Last Updated: June 08, 2009.

Rats born to undernourished mothers and who exercise moderately daily are able to avoid obesity by adapting to changes in nutrient supply and energy expenditure in muscle, according to a study published online May 28 in Endocrinology.

MONDAY, June 8 (HealthDay News) -- Rats born to undernourished mothers and who exercise moderately daily are able to avoid obesity by adapting to changes in nutrient supply and energy expenditure in muscle, according to a study published online May 28 in Endocrinology.

Building on previous studies showing that intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) leads to offspring who are obese as adults but also show a preference for exercise, Korinna Huber, Ph.D., from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, Germany, and colleagues investigated skeletal muscle structure in the offspring of rats who were undernourished or fed a normal diet during pregnancy.

Even though the researchers found that red muscle (slow and oxidative) from IUGR rats had higher oxidative capacity, increased fatty acid oxidation was not what led to the obesity prevention in IUGR rats. Instead, obesity prevention was due to a higher capacity for anaerobic utilization of glucose, as indicated by higher glycogen content in white muscle (fast and glycolytic). In addition, the authors note, exercise-induced lactate accumulation was blocked through activation of a lactate shuttle.

"This enhanced metabolic flexibility in IUGR offspring may facilitate muscle contractile performance, and therefore support moderate daily exercise for effective obesity prevention," Huber and colleagues conclude.

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