It's no wonder that consumers are confused. They see brisk sales of Atkin's diet books and assume if everyone is buying the book and using the diet - "I should too." Then they hear from so-called food gurus who appear on talk shows extolling the virtues of diets filled with fat as "satiating and necessary" despite the warnings of doctors, particularly cardiologists. And certainly Morgan Spurlock of documentary movie fame survived a month of fast food eating (albeit with an extra tire around his waist and a very poor cholesterol profile). So just how bad could a high fat diet be??
We do know that excess weight and obesity can contribute to a host of health issues and day-to-day living issues. Results from a new animal study suggest that obesity among people who largely subsist on a high fat diet, may injure neurons or nerve cells that actually help to "control body weight." Researchers studied the brains of rodents who were fed a high-fat diet, to see short-term and long-term effects of the diet. Different rodent groups were fed high fat foods for anywhere from one day to eight months. Researchers then performed detailed brain imaging and brain cell sorting analyses.
After 3 days of eating a typical American diet, rats began to consume double their regular calorie intake. Researchers saw inflammation in the hypothalamus area of the rodent brains that had not been there "pre-diet." Gliosis, which is a brain response to the inflammation, was also instigated as an immediate reaction. It subsided but reappeared several weeks later. In the group that was fed this diet for 8 months there was damage to and then eventual loss of neurons called POMC neurons, which are weight regulating neurons. Researchers do not know if this damage is permanent or whether it could disappear after a regular diet is resumed.
Experts say that armed with these trial results, they can pursue therapies that help to undo the damage that overeating a high fat diet can cause to weight regulating cells. Otherwise you not only will gain weight from the actual diet, but you may also be at risk of additional and ongoing weight gain because of damage to weight-regulating neurons.