Addiction Transfer via Nutrition During Pregnancy 

Ever wondered about the impact of nutrition during pregnancy? This presentation reviews the evidence from animal models.

Preclinical evidence for the addiction potential of highly palatable foods: Current developments related to maternal influence

by David Wiss, Kristen Criscitelli, Mark Gold, Nicole Avena


It is well established that obesity has reached pandemic proportions. Over the last four decades the
prevalence of obesity and morbid obesity have risen substantially in both men and women worldwide.
Although there are many causative factors leading to excessive weight gain including genetics and
sedentary lifestyle, the transformation of the food environment has undoubtedly contributed to the
dangerously high rates of obesity. The current food landscape is inundated with food engineered to
contain artificially high levels of sugar and fat. Overconsumption of these types of food overrides the
homeostatic mechanisms, which under normal circumstances regulate appetite and body mass, leading
to hedonic eating. Evidence from the animal literature has illustrated nutrition-influenced perturbations
that occur within the mesolimbic dopamine pathway, as well as maladaptive behavioral responses that
result from chronic ingestion of highly palatable foods. These neurobehavioral adaptations are similar to
what is observed in drugs of abuse. Recent evidence also supports that maternal exposure to these foods
is capable of provoking neurobehavioral alterations in offspring. Therefore the purpose of this review is
to summarize the current developments on the addictive potential of highly palatable foods, as well as
illuminate the impact of maternal hyperphagia and obesity on the reward-related neurocircuitry and
addiction-like behaviors in the offspring.
Journal Article HERE
Recorded webinar below!
This is a mini-webinar reviewing recent evidence of the impact of highly palatable foods on the neurodevelopment of the offspring, using animal models. The video is 10:19 and is highly recommended for those interested in brain chemistry, hormones, and epigenetics. This is a sensitive topic. Feedback is always welcome!

Dr. David Wiss became a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) in 2013 and founded Nutrition in Recovery, a group practice of RDNs specializing in treating eating and substance use disorders. In 2017, David received the “Excellence in Practice” award at the National Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics awarded him the “Emerging Dietetic Leader Award” in 2020. He earned his Ph.D. from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health in the Community Health Sciences department (with a minor in Health Psychology) by investigating the links between adverse childhood experiences and various mental health outcomes among socially disadvantaged men. His treatment philosophy is based on a biopsychosocial model which incorporates an understanding of biological mechanisms, psychological underpinnings, and contextual factors that integrate the social determinants of health. Wise Mind Nutrition is an app-based interactive treatment program available for download now -

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