According to new research, eating for two while expecting may lead to weight problems on account of changes which take place in a pregnant woman's digestive system.

The study, which was conducted by the Medical Research Council at the Clinical Sciences Centre in London, indicates that pregnancy results in a hormone-driven growth in the intestine - a process which allows more energy to be extracted from the same amount of food.

In addition to intestine growth, it has been established that this same hormone was found to stimulate fat storage.

Researchers suggest that this process may help to explain why women struggle to shed weight after giving birth, with lead scientist Dr. Irene Migeul-Aliaga saying: "Previous studies have shown that eating for two during early pregnancy is unnecessary. Our research suggests that this is because the digestive system is already anticipating the demands that the growing baby will place upon our body."

Using fruit flies to explain the process, the study's co-author, Dr. Jake Jacobson, asserted: "Many of the fly genes that we studied exist in humans. Flies also utilise and store fat like we do, and their metabolism is controlled by similar hormones."

Elaborating further still, it has been suggested that if a woman's hormone levels fail to normalise after giving birth, they will continue to absorb more calories.

Dismissing the old wive's tale that eating for two is recommended, Dr. Joe McNamara explained: "This research points to a new scientific explanation why eating for two during pregnancy is not necessary, and may even be harmful, as a growing body of evidence indicates that a mother's diet can impact a child's propensity to be obese in later life."

Turning his attention to future research in the field, Dr. Mc Namara says: "The important next step will be to reproduce these findings in humans."

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