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Do High-Fat Diets Make Us Stupid and Lazy??

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, August 13, 2009 4:29 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: High-Fat Diet, Short-Term Memory, Junk Food, Heart Disease, Obesity

High fat diets at 55 percent of total calories, fed to rats made them less active and hurt their short-term memory in 9 days.  What are the implications for humans?


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikipedia Commons/ burger and fries/ author: Jess Sawrey

That is the headline of a news release announcing a new study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.

This study finds that in less than 10 days, rats eating a high-fat diet had decreased physical endurance and short-term memory loss.

While western diets are typically high in fat, leading to long-term medical complications such as heart disease, and obesity, the short-term consequences of that type of diet have not been studied.

Scientists at the Oxford University fed rats a low-fat diet - 7.5 percent of their calories as fat - then compared them to rats who had been fed a high-fat diet consisting of 55 percent of calories from fat.

The results – the high-fat diet rats took longer to complete the maze and made more mistakes in their quest to find a treat at the end of the maze. The high-fat diet rats were less able to use oxygen, supplied to our muscles for exercise, and, as a result, their hearts had to work harder.

The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation.

What does this mean for humans?

It's nothing short of a high-fat hangover," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal in a news release. "A long weekend spent eating hotdogs, French fries, and pizza in Orlando might be a great treat for our taste buds, but they might send our muscles and brains out to lunch."

In other words, high-fat diets may make humans stupid and lazy.

The study authors say they hope the study will get people to seriously consider reducing the fat content of their diet for general health, well-being, and alertness. For athletes, the study indicates the optimal diet for training and it may help people with metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, insulin resistance or obesity, develop an ideal diet.

A study released in June by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests diets high in fat from red meat and dairy products can increase the risk for pancreatic cancer.

Rats were studied in the FASEB report because the cause and effect can be played out in a much shorter time. Dr Andrew Murray, now at the University of Cambridge, and his team are carrying out similar studies in humans.

FASEB is a nonprofit umbrella organization promoting biological and medical research and scientific literature. #

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