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Dieting and Diabetes

Posted February. 02, 2007 06:47,   


A study has found that women who diet severely are more likely to have children prone to diabetes.

A research team at the Korea Cancer Center Hospital, including Lee Yoon-yong and professors of the Seoul National University College of Medicine Lee Hong-gyu and Park Kyung-su, reported, “When malnutrition occurs to women of childbearing age, their offspring will inherit abnormal mitochondrion.” Mitochondrion is an apparatus within a cell that creates energy. A child inherits nearly all mitochondrion from his or her mother.

The research team kept feeding low-protein feed to pregnant lab rats from the beginning of gestation to birth and breast-feeding stages. This fodder contained three times less the amount of protein in ordinary feed.

The young rats were born 20 percent underweight due to malnourishment. Even after weaning and consuming solid food, the rats did not gain weight. After 20 weeks, the team removed the pancreas of the rats and examined them through a microscope. In terms of human age, rats aged 20 weeks are in their twenties to thirties.

The results showed that the size of their beta cells that secreted insulin were dramatically smaller and scarcer than normal. The mitochondrion in their beta cells were reduced and were contorted into extended shapes. The team concluded that the offspring of the female rat inherited its mitochondrion from its malnourished mother.

The professor said, “When there’s a problem with the mitochondrion, the insulin secreted from the pancreas that breaks down glucose decreases, limiting the function of insulin in the liver or muscles and bringing on diabetes or obesity. This is the reason why malnourished female North Korean defectors get overweight in South Korea.” The nutrients accumulate in the body because they are decomposed and cannot be used for activity.

The study results will be presented on February 2-3 at the “Fourth Asian Society for Mitochondrial Research and Medicine” to be held at the Seoul National University Hospital.