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Over eating leads to depression which leads to more over eating. It may seem obvious, but there is more to it than a simple cycle of reactionary behavior. “In addition to causing obesity, rich foods can actually cause chemical reactions in the brain in a similar way to illicit drugs, ultimately leading to depression as the ‘come downs’ take their toll,” explained lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Fulton from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CR-CHUM).
“Data shows that obesity is associated with increased risk of developing depression, but we have very little understanding of the neural mechanisms and brain reward patterns that link the two. We are demonstrating for the first time that the chronic consumption of palatable, high fat diets has pro-depressive effects,” explained Fulton.
The team found that mice fed a higher fat diet exhibited signs of anxiety and depression. Their brain chemistry was also altered by the diet and more corticosterone was detected – this is a hormone associated with stress.
“Although popular culture jokes about these illnesses and even mocks people who are suffering, obesity is a serious and major public health issue that already affects hundreds of millions of people. As a society, we must avoid creating stigma and discriminating against obese and depressed people,” Fulton noted. “With regards to research, it is urgent that we identify the molecules and neural pathways involved in obesity and obesity-related illnesses. My colleagues and I are committed to identifying the brain circuitry involved in these diseases and to improving the tools available to researchers working in the same field.”
Source: ScienceDaily, Universite de Montreal
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