Dieting can be
depressing to many people because cutting out fatty foods from the diet can
alter the brain function, says a new study published in the International
Journal of Obesity.
can be nothing more depressing for a person on a diet than watching other
people tuck in calorie-laden food.
Scientists believe that abandoning a calorie-rich
diet including sugary and fatty foods can trigger chemical changes in the brain
that make people enter a vicious cycle of poor eating and depression.
at the University of Montreal draw a similarity between going on a diet and
drug withdrawal symptoms. The researchers studied the brain of mice fed on
high-fat, high-sugar diet and found that the neurochemistry of these mice were
different from those mice that were fed on a healthy diet. They discovered that
the changed diet brought chemical changes that were linked to depression and
increased sensitivity towards stressful events, bringing about a tendency to
group of mice was fed on a low-fat diet and another group was fed a high-fat
diet for over six weeks. There was only 11 per cent of fat in the low-fat diet
while the high-fat diet had 58 percent fats. The mice were then monitored for
changes in emotions and behavior that were brought about by the different food
showed that the waist size of the second group, which was not yet obese,
increased by 11 per cent. It was found that the brain of the mice fed on
high-fat diet had altered and that they exhibited signs of anxiety- related
behavior, such as avoiding open areas.
"The chemicals changed by the diet are
associated with depression. A change of diet then causes withdrawal symptoms
and a greater sensitivity to stressful situations, launching a vicious cycle of
poor eating," said Dr Stephanie Fulton, the co-researcher of this study.
is a molecule which enables the brain to reward people with kind and generous
feelings. Researchers discovered that another molecule CREB, which enhances the
production of dopamine, is more activated in the brains of the high fat-fed
mice. These mice also had higher levels of corticosterone, a hormone linked to
stress. The presence of these two chemicals is responsible for the altered
behavior of the mice.
The study provides fodder
for thought regarding the link between food, emotions and behavior, and prompts
us to be more understanding towards those involved in the battle of bulge.