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We all know junk food is bad for you, but just how bad is it while you're pregnant?

Why is junk food in the news?

Studies from the Royal Veterinary College say that a junk food diet during pregnancy can cause major damage to your child's growth, affecting their weight, raising their cholesterol levels and creating a greater risk of diabetes.

What else did the study discover?

The research found that mothers who ate a lot of junk food gave birth to babies with a higher chance of developing problems linked to heart disease. Dr Pat Goodwin, from the Wellcome Trust who funded the research, agreed with the evidence that could affect someone in becoming overweight. Goodwin said, 'Pregnancy can be a difficult time for many mothers, but it is important that they are aware that what they eat may affect their offspring'.

What do they mean by junk food?

The junk food used in the research was doughnuts, muffins, marshmallows, crisps, sweets and chocolates. But junk food means anything that's fatty, processed foods such as hamburgers, chips, pizza and fried chicken.

What should you be eating during pregnancy?

Doctors believe that eating foods containing minerals such as calcium, folate, fibre, iron and protein, as well as drinking plenty of water, will provide your baby with the nutrients it needs. These minerals can be found in fruits and vegetables, low fat dairy products, wholewheat breads and cereals containing bran.
- Read our guide to what to eat during pregnancy.

What if I crave junk food during pregnancy?

Professor Neil Stickland, a researcher from the Royal Veterinary College, says pregnancy cravings are OK: 'The odd bit of junk food in pregnancy is not going to do harm, but constant gorging on junk food and putting on too much weight in pregnancy is not going to set the child off to a good start.'

How accurate is this study?

Experts still don't agree. Dr Simon Langley-Evans, a nutritional researcher from the University of Nottingham, disagreed with the study, claiming that it did not prove that a mother's diet could affect the health of babies beyond the effect on your child's cravings and appetite.
But Jane Brewin from baby charity Tommy's welcomed the study, saying: 'Obesity poses one of the biggest threats to maternal and foetal health today.'

- Read last week's big issue: Fear over new obesity drug

More help and advice

- Preventing Type 2 diabetes
- Should you drink when pregnant?
- How much weight should I put on during pregnancy?

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