Pregnancy and lactation in the obese rat: Effects on maternal and pup weights

Barbara J. Rolls, Edward A. Rowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Lister hooded female rats, fed palatable high energy foods and chow, weighed significantly more than chow-fed control rats before mating. A smaller proportion of the obese rats became pregnant, and they lost more litters in lactation. When litters survived (7±1 pups), maternal weight changes differed between groups during lactation. The controls gained 6.2±3.2 g, whereas the obese rats lost variable amounts of weight despite the continued availability of the palatable diet. The rats that were heaviest at mating and parturition and which showed the largest non-fetal weight gains in pregnancy (i.e., the "large weight loss group") lost 60.6±4.8 g, while less obese rats which showed similar non-fetal gains to controls (i.e., the "small weight loss group") lost 24.6±3.2 g. Thus the weights of all groups converged and were similar after three weeks of lactation, but diverged again after weaning. During lactation the total energy intakes and amounts of protein consumed by the obese rats were significantly below those of controls, and total fat intake was significantly elevated. Although litter size and pup weights did not differ significantly at birth, pups of obese mothers weighed significantly less than those of controls at weaning. Maternal obesity in lactation appears to influence both body weight regulation and lactational performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-400
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1982

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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