Put down that Twinkie; it may be doing damage to your brain. Two new studies published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggest that high-fat diets and obesity alters how the hypothalamus functions.
The first study has
found that in obese rats, as well as in obese humans, neurons around
the hypothalamus were injured by inflammation. Since the hypothalamus
functions as the on/off switch that tells the body when you've already
consumed enough food, it hastens overeating. In the scientists own
words: “These findings collectively suggest that, in both humans and
models, obesity is associated with neuronal injury in a brain area
crucial for body weight control.”
The second study
discovered that in mice given a very fatty diet, the neurons around the
hypothalamus were slow to be replaced compared to those of mice that were given a
lower-fat diet. “Feeding mice HFD suppressed neurogenesis, as demonstrated by the
observation that these mice both generated fewer new neurons and
retained more old neurons,” the paper said.