No, no — say it isn’t so. Research has revealed a potentially insidious side of chips, dips, fries, pies, cakes and shakes.
Those fatty, forbidden foods we love may suppress our “stop eating” hormone, creating a dietary double whammy. The more we gobble, the more we can’t stop gobbling.
That is the idea, anyway, behind a study released yesterday by the Neuroscience Institute at Pennsylvania State University involving a bunch of fat-snacking rats who just did not know when to say when — and their more moderate counterparts.
Over 20 luxurious days, one group of the rats in question received a high-calorie, high-fat “rat chow” snack that the rodents found particularly delectable, the study noted. The other group led a more spartan existence, dining upon low-fat rat cuisine.
“When we gave the rats doses of ‘stop eating’ hormone, the rats on the low-fat diet significantly suppressed their intake of the snack, but not the rats on the high-fat diet,” said nutritional scientist Mihai Covasa, who led the study. “These results suggests that a long-term, high-fat diet may actually promote short-term overconsumption of highly palatable foods, high in dietary fat.”
The goodies brought on a taste for even more treats “by reducing sensitivity to at least one important feedback signal, which would ordinarily limit eating,” Mr. Covasa said.
Blame it on the CCK.
Most folks are probably unaware they have a hormone called cholecystokinin, or CCK, lurking in their small intestines. It is released when fat or protein is present, jump-starting digestion and activating nerves that link intestine and brain. The sensation of being sated and the decision to stop eating are prompted by CCK.
But back to the rats.
The researchers injected CCK into both the fat-snacking, and no doubt happy, rats and their dieting brethren, with some significant results.
“CCK significantly suppressed food intake in low fat-fed rats but not high fat-fed rats,” the study states. “These results demonstrate that chronic ingestion of a high fat diet leads to short-term overconsumption of a high-energy, high-fat food compared with low fat-fed cohorts, which is associated with a decreased sensitivity to CCK.”
The study is published in the August issue of the Journal of Nutrition, a publication of the American Society of Nutritional Sciences.
It is likely that most of the nation will heed such findings, said ACNielsen, a consumer research branch of Nielsen — the New York-based television ratings company. The group polled 21,000 respondents in 38 countries and found that Americans are more savvy about food labeling than anyone else on the planet.
Released last Wednesday, the survey reported that 65 percent of Americans say they understand nutritional information displayed on boxes or packages, compared with 43 percent of Europeans. The measurement checked out first: fat content.