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Long-term, High Fat Diets Alter the Brains of Mice: The Changes in the Brain may Contribute to the Cycles of Weight Gain

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A new study has discovered that when mice are fed a high-fat diet for a prolonged period of time their brains show irreversible changes in the areas associated with reward and pleasure.

What the Data Showed

"Our data show that chronic consumption of a high-fat diet leads to significant changes in brain chemistry," said senior author Teresa Reyes, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine.

“Fatty foods tap the pleasure centers of the brain, the same areas triggered by cocaine or heroin. Reyes and her colleagues explored whether these pathways could be modified on a molecular level by eating a high-fat diet for a long period of time.” The researchers found that the genes involved with reward were altered in mice fed a high-fat diet for more than six months.

Conclusion

Many people struggle with weight issues whether it is weight gain or loss of weight. The study shows the biological challenges of breaking out of this cycle. "These results provide further insight into the health consequences of long-term, high-fat diets, and suggest one explanation for why some people face such difficulty in the path to weight loss and healthier eating," Reyes said.

Source: Society for Neuroscience (2010, November 15). Long-term, high-fat diet alters mice brains: Brain changes may contribute to cycles of weight gain.