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Long Term High-Fat Diet Expands Waistline and Shrinks Brain

A new study suggests eating a high-fat diet may increase your waistline and damage your cognitive function.

According to recent studies published in the journal Metabolic Brain Disease eating a high-fat diet may increase waistline and damage cognitive function.

New research shows that fatty foods may not only be adding to your waistline but also playing havoc with your brain.

A clear connection has been found between mice fed a high-fat diet for 30 weeks, causing diabetes, and a subsequent decline in their cognitive abilities, including the onset of anxiety, depression, and worsening Alzheimer’s disease, according to an international study led by neuroscientists at the University of South Australia Professor Xin-Fu Zhou and Associate Professor Larisa Bobrovskaya.

The study, according to University of South Australia Associate Professor Larisa Bobrovskaya, a biochemist and neurologist, adds additional evidence linking diabetes and obesity with Alzheimer’s disease,” which is anticipated to affect 100 million people globally by 2050.

“Obesity and diabetes impair the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline.

We demonstrated our observation in our study with mice,” Assoc Prof Bobrovskaya says.

The poor metabolism brought on by brain alterations in mice with reduced cognitive function increased their risk of putting on too much weight. The study results are published in Metabolic Brain Disease (Xiong et al., 2022).

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What is High-Fat Diet?

A high-fat diet (HFD) is one that gets at least 35% of its calories from fat, both saturated and unsaturated. The list of foods with high-fat content is long and includes, but is not limited to, animal fat, chocolate, butter, fatty seafood, and many more popular processed foods.

High-Fat Diet

Obesity, or being overweight, is a common side effect of consuming a high-fat diet.

High-fat diets promote the growth of colorectal cancer by disrupting the equilibrium of bile acids in the colon and causing a hormonal signal that encourages the creation of possibly malignant cells (Fu et al., 2019).

The risk of painful illnesses common in people with diabetes or obesity can rise with a typical Western diet high in fat (Boyd et al., 202). It raises blood pressure (Taylor et al., 2018).

Furthermore, it appears to cause our brain’s normally active immune cells to become dormant and begin consuming the connections between our neurons (Hao et al., 201).

A high-fat diet rich in omega-6 fatty acids is a significant risk factor for diabetes and heart failure (Kain et al., 2019).

In the new study, scientists demonstrated that high fat not only increases the risk of obesity and diabetes but impairs the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline.

In the study experiment, mice were randomized to either a conventional or high-fat diet for 30 weeks, from the age of eight weeks. Body weight, Blood sugar levels, glucose tolerance tests, and cognitive impairment were evaluated at various intervals.

Compared to mice fed a normal diet, those on the high-fat diet increased a lot in weight, experienced insulin resistance, and began acting strangely.

When given a high-fat diet, genetically altered Alzheimer’s disease mice displayed a severe decline in cognition and pathological alterations in the brain.


“Obese individuals have about a 55 percent increased risk of developing depression, and diabetes will double that risk,” Assoc Prof Bobrovskaya says.

“Our findings underline the importance of addressing the global obesity epidemic. A combination of obesity, age, and diabetes is very likely to lead to a decline in cognitive abilities, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mental health disorders.”

“Obesity and diabetes impair the central nervous system, exacerbating psychiatric disorders and cognitive decline. We demonstrated this in our study with mice,” Assoc Prof Bobrovskaya says.

Related Publication and Further Readings

Boyd, J. T., P. M. LoCoco, et al. (2021). “Elevated dietary omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids induce reversible peripheral nerve dysfunction that exacerbates comorbid pain conditions.” Nat Metab 3(6): 762-773.

Fu, T., S. Coulter, et al. (2019). “FXR Regulates Intestinal Cancer Stem Cell Proliferation.” Cell 176(5): 1098-1112 e1018.

Hao, S., A. Dey, et al. (2016). “Dietary obesity reversibly induces synaptic stripping by microglia and impairs hippocampal plasticity.” Brain Behav Immun 51: 230-239.

Kain, V., W. Van Der Pol, et al. (2019). “Obesogenic diet in aging mice disrupts gut microbe composition and alters neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio, leading to inflamed milieu in acute heart failure.” FASEB J 33(5): 6456-6469.

Taylor, L. E., E. E. Gillis, et al. (2018). “High-fat diet-induced hypertension is associated with a proinflammatory T cell profile in male and female Dahl salt-sensitive rats.” Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 315(6): H1713-H1723.

Xiong, J., I. Deng, et al. (2022). “Long term high fat diet induces metabolic disorders and aggravates behavioral disorders and cognitive deficits in MAPT P301L transgenic mice.” Metab Brain Dis 37(6): 1941-1957.


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