The Daily Mail is reporting how new research suggests a high-fat diet may be linked to the hyperactivity disorder ADHD and learning disabilities.
The effect is so profound that eating lots of fatty food for even a week can cause behavioural changes – even before any weight gain sets in.
It’s thought that too much fat may alter how the body metabolises dopamine, a chemical with a key role in regulating mood.
The researchers, from the University of Illinois, found that mice fed a high-fat diet (60 per cent of calories from fat) versus a low fat diet (10 per cent) behaved very differently. A typical Western diet contains between 35 and 45 per cent fat.
‘We found that a high-fat diet rapidly affected dopamine metabolism in the brains of juvenile mice, triggering anxious behaviors and learning deficiencies,’ said Gregory Freund, a professor in the university’s Division of Nutritional Sciences.
‘Altered dopamine signaling in the brain is common to both ADHD and the overweight or obese state. And an increase in the number of dopamine metabolites is associated with anxiety behaviors in children.’
He added: ‘After only one week of the high-fat diet, even before we were able to see any weight gain, the behavior of the mice in the first group began to change,’ he said.
Evidence of anxiety included increased burrowing and wheel running as well a reluctance to explore open spaces.
The mice also developed learning and memory deficits, including decreased ability to negotiate a maze and impaired object recognition.
But he added that when Ritalin – the drug typically prescribed to children suffering such disorders – was administered, the leaning and memory problems went away.
And switching mice from a high-fat to a low-fat diet restored memory in one week, he noted.
However the effects may be more long-lasting in children, he added. ‘Although the mice grow out of these anxious behaviors and learning deficiencies, the study suggests to me that a high-fat diet could trigger anxiety and memory disorders in a child who is genetically or environmentally susceptible to them.’
But abruptly removing fat from the diet might also negatively affect anxiety, learning, and memory.
The research was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
2013 Miles in 2013
I am doing my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.
The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, so if you can please spare £2.06 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.
The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/2012-AYearWithoutBeer-CF.
2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules
The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:
- All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
- I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment
To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.