A new research has found that the consumption of diet foods could result in the opposite of the desired effect.
Researchers at the University of Georgia fed a group of rats a diet high in sugar but low in fat, as it’s found in many diet foods.
Another group was fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet while a third group was given a balanced, normal rat diet.
Each group was monitored for a four-week period and it was found that rather than lose weight, the rats being fed with the diet foods actually increased body fat mass when compared to rats fed a balanced rodent diet.
The group on a high-fat, high-sugar diet showed significant increases in body weight and fat while the low-fat, high-sugar group also displayed an increase in liver fat.
Krzysztof Czaja, the study’s principal investigator, warned that it “is a very dangerous situation, because the liver accumulating more fat mimics the effect of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”.
The team also found that the low-fat, high-sugar and high-fat, high-sugar diets caused inflammation in the brain.
“The brain changes resulting from these unbalanced diets seem to be long term, and it is still not known if they are reversible by balanced diets,” said Czaja.
“Most so-called diet products containing low or no fat have an increased amount of sugar and are camouflaged under fancy names, giving the impression that they are healthy, but the reality is that those foods may damage the liver and lead to obesity as well.”
“What’s really troubling in our findings is that the rats consuming high-sugar, low-fat diets didn’t consume significantly more calories than the rats fed a balanced diet,” Czaja added. “Our research shows that in rats fed a low-fat, high-sugar diet, the efficiency of generating body fat is more than twice as high–in other words, rats consuming low-fat high-sugar diets need less than half the number of calories to generate the same amount of body fat.”
The study has been published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.
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