Margaret J. Morris and colleagues, of the University of New South Wales, in Australia, studied the impact of a diet high in fat and sugar on laboratory rats and observed memory impairments after just one week.
Specifically, the cognitive impairment was related to place recognition—where the animals showed poor ability to notice when an object had been moved to a new location.
The animals also had inflammation of the hippocampal region of the brain, which is associated with spatial memory. Said the authors, “These results show that relatively short exposures to diets rich in both fat and sugar or rich in sugar impair…memory…and suggest a role for oxidative stress and neuroinflammation in this impairment.”
Beilharz, Jessica E., et al. (2013). Short exposure to a diet rich in both fat and sugar or sugar alone impairs place, but not object recognition memory, in rats. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Published online December 3.
—Dr. Bob Goldman
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