Tags: Obesity | Obesity Learning Disabilities Linked

Are Obesity, Learning Disabilities Linked?

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 04:45 PM

By Nick Tate

Can the nation’s obesity epidemic be behind the rising rates of learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders? A new University of Illinois study suggests the answer may be “yes,” and identified a possible link between high-fat diets and such childhood brain-based mental health conditions.
The findings, published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, are based on laboratory studies of mice. But lead researcher Gregory Freund, a professor in the University’s College of Medicine and a nutritional science specialist, said they have important implications for people.

“We found that a high-fat diet rapidly affected dopamine metabolism in the brains of juvenile mice, triggering anxious behaviors and learning deficiencies,” said Freund. “Interestingly, when [Ritalin] was administered, the learning and memory problems went away."
Freund said that altered dopamine signaling in the brain is common in people with ADHD and individuals who are overweight or obese.
He said the study was triggered by the recent upsurge in both child obesity and adverse childhood psychological conditions, including impulsivity, depression, and ADHD. His team examined the short-term effects of a high-fat diet (60 percent calories from fat) versus a low-fat diet (10 percent) on the behavior of two groups of mice.
“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.
The mice placed on the high-fat diet demonstrated symptoms of anxiety and developed learning and memory deficits, including a decreased ability to negotiate a maze or recognize objects. The researchers also found that a high-fat diet initiates chemical responses in the brain that are similar to those seen in addiction, with dopamine, the chemical important to the addict's pleasurable experiences, increasing in the brain.
Switching mice from a high-fat to a low-fat diet normalized their behavior in one week, Freund noted.
"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," he added.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

© 2015 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.

Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Zip Code:
Privacy: We never share your email.
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
Top Stories
You May Also Like

A-Fib Found to Double 'Silent' Stroke Risk

Monday, 24 Nov 2014 14:14 PM

Atrial fibrillation, a common condition in which the heart beats irregularly, more than doubles the risk of "silent stro . . .

Drug to Treat Hemophilia

Friday, 24 Oct 2014 12:48 PM

Drugmaker Baxter International Inc said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had approved its drug for treating bleedin . . .

4 Things You Need to Know About This Year's Flu Shot

Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 10:58 AM

At this point, scientists say they can't predict the severity of the coming flu season. But if you are planning to get t . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved