Children who are conceived while their mother is on a diet face a greater risk of becoming obese or diabetic as they grow older, according to new research.
The study, which was undertaken by scientists at the University of Manchester, involved tests using sheep and may have also uncovered a reason as to why Type 2 diabetes is more common in human twins.
Professor of endocrine sciences Anne White said: "Our findings provide a reason why twins are more likely to get diabetes but we have also shown that mothers who don't have enough food around the time of conception may have a child who grows up with an increased risk of obesity."
The research involved examining twin pregnancies in sheep and also pregnancies of ewes that were given a smaller amount of food when they fell pregnant.
Tissues from the brains of the unborn lambs were then examined in order to measure any developments in the DNA that would possibly change genes that are necessary in food intake and levels of glucose following birth.
The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published the findings.
Copyright Press Association 2012