High Fat Diet Starts Eat-Depressed-Eat More Cycle

A diet high in fat makes people addicted to high-fat food resulting in depression and even changes the brain’s circuitry says a new study published in International Journal of Obesity.

Fat Bastard’s famous line "I eat because I'm depressed and I'm depressed because I eat" is now being supported by advanced neuroscience.

"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," said Dr. Stephanie Fulton, lead researcher.

In the study, mice were fed with different types of food. Mice that were fed on a diet of high fat began showing symptoms of depression like avoiding open spaces. Their brain scan showed elevated levels of CREB (molecule associated with memory control) and corticosterone (hormone associated with stress) compared to mice that were on low-fat diet indicating depression.

"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,” Fulton said.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 percent or 12.5 million of children and adolescents are obese. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among adolescents has tripled.

"Although popular culture jokes about these illnesses and even mocks the 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 said.

“With regards to research, it is urgent that we identify the molecules and neural pathways involved in obesity and obesity-related illnesses,” she said.

Depression and negative thoughts about are often regarded as an obstacle in dealing with obesity, especially in young adults.

In a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers say that lower body-satisfaction was a de-motivator in adolescents. Lower body satisfaction resulted in eating disorders like binge eating that lead to more weight gain. The researchers, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer and colleagues, suggest, “Interventions with adolescents should strive to enhance body satisfaction and avoid messages likely to lead to decreases in body satisfaction.”

Another research suggests that obese people often become isolated because they tend to hold the same stereotypes about themselves as healthy individuals around them.