Eating fatty and sugary foods can cause chemical changes in the brain, making a person on a diet feel like they are having drug withdrawals.
Over a six-week period, the team of experts fed one group of mice a low-fat diet, while feeding a second group of mice a high-fat diet, so that they could analyze how the different foods impacted the behavior of the animals.
Eleven percent of the calories in the low-fat diet consisted of fat, and 58% in the high-fat diet. This caused the high-fat group an 11% increase in their waist size, but they were not yet considered obese.
Fulton and her team then examined the association between rewarding mice with food and their behavioral and emotional outcomes by using a variety of methods that have been scientifically proven. The brains of the animals were also analyzed so that the experts could observe any changes that had occurred.
The researchers found that the high-fat group showed signs of anxiety, for example, they tried to avoid areas that were open. According to the authors, the animals’ experiences physically changed their brains.