High Fat Diet Could Damage Your Brain

High fat diets may be linked to brain damage, according to a new study. Findings indicated that consuming a diet high in fat not only damaged neurons in laboratory rodents, but also triggered greater food consumption and ongoing weight gain.

Research findings presented at the 93rd Annual Meeting of The Endocrine Society last week in Boston indicate that obese individuals who consume a diet high in fat could actually damage nerve cells in the part of the brain that controls body weight.

The study, helmed by Dr. Joshua Thaler at the Diabetes and Obesity Center of Excellence at the University of Washington, examined the effect of on rats and mice of a high fat diet designed to simulate the typical American diet. Researchers analyzed the rodents’ brains after periods ranging from 1 day to 8 months, revealing damage to and loss of the neurons in the brain that regulate weight. After being fed the high fat diet for a period of three days, the rodents began consuming double their usual daily caloric amount. They also gained weight throughout the rest of the survey period.

The scientists also saw evidence of gliosis, a type of wound healing that occurs in instances of nerve damage and can be seen in patients who have multiple sclerosis or strokes. Although gliosis is activated in the early stages of obesity, it may fail over time, researchers say.

In presenting the findings, Dr. Thaler stated, “The possibility that brain injury may be a consequence of the over consumption of a typical American diet offers a new explanation for why sustained weight loss is so difficult for most obese individuals to achieve.” The results of this study, according to Dr. Thaler, may provide a new focus in obesity treatment. For example, medicines may be developed that can limit the amount of injury to neurons when people overeat.

The results of this study provide an insight into what weight loss treatment may involve in the future. At the moment, options such as weight loss surgery can help improve the quality of life and overall health of patients who suffer from morbid obesity.

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