The influence of maternal high-fat diet consumption on neurobehavioral development

A. J. Mitchell, Matthew Selby, Elinor L. Sullivan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


The western-style diet (WSD) or high-fat diet is characterized by excess saturated lipids, high-caloric density, and low level of vitamins and minerals. Despite this, it is becoming increasingly common across the globe; due to the low cost, it is especially prevalent in individuals with low socioeconomic status. The WSD is rich with saturated fats and sweeteners, as well as foods with shelf lives artificially extended by salts and preservatives. Epidemiological studies demonstrate an association between WSD consumption and the development of chronic diseases such as type II diabetes and cardiometabolic diseases, as well as cognitive impairments related to decreases in hippocampal memory capacity. Recent evidence from epidemiological studies indicates that maternal consumption of a WSD during pregnancy increases offspring’s risk of developing numerous disorders including obesity and cardiometabolic disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and depression. However, a myriad of confounding factors such as lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and education level inhibit the ability of these studies to directly assess the contribution of maternal diet to these maladaptive outcomes. Thus, the use of animal models is critical for expanding our understanding of how the WSD influences offspring development. This chapter will focus on studies examining the impact of maternal WSD consumption on offspring neural development and risk for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFactors Affecting Neurodevelopment
Subtitle of host publicationGenetics, Neurology, Behavior, and Diet
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780128179864
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Fetal neurodevelopment
  • High-fat diet
  • Maternal obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Programming
  • Western-style diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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