High-fat Diet Affects Brain Signaling

PITTSBURGH, July 16 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say animal studies show high-fat diet-induced changes in brain chemical release.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago correlated prolonged exposure to a high-fat diet with changes in the brain chemical dopamine within the striatum — a critical component of the brain’s reward system.


“Previous research has demonstrated reduced dopamine transporter numbers in association with obesity and exposure to a high-fat diet,” Mitchell Roitman of the University of Illinois at Chicago said in a statement.

“Our research shows that these changes lead to major differences in the way dopamine functions in the brain.”

Roitman and colleagues measured “real-time” changes in dopamine levels after rats consumed a high-fat diet for either two or six weeks. Compared with rats consuming a standard low fat diet, high-fat diet rats exhibited reduced dopamine release and also reduced reuptake by dopamine transporters within the striatum.

The findings were presented in Pittsburgh at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

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