LOS ANGELES (CBS Las Vegas) – According to a recent study, not only does eating too much junk food lead to obesity, it can also make you mentally slower or less motivated.
Researchers at UCLA tested rats on two different diets. Half the rats were given a healthy diet which consisted of ground corn and fish meal. The other rats were given an unhealthy diet of high sugar and high processed foods.
After about three months, researchers noticed major differences between the two groups of rats. They found the rats on junk food were not only more overweight that the rats on the healthy diet, but they were also less motivated. Researchers indicated that a poor diet had an impact on their brain.
The researchers then made the rats perform certain tasks. The rats on the junk food diet were slower to react to the tasks. Researcher even noted the breaks the rats took between performing tasks. The rats on the junk food diet would take about a 10 minute break between each task, while the rats on the healthy diet would only break about 5 minutes between tasks.
After about another three months, the groups of rats switched diets. The rats that were on the junk food diet were now on the healthy diet, while the rats on the healthy diet were now on a junk food diet. Researchers found that the change in diet did not help the overweight rats lose or weight or change the rats’ abilities to perform tasks. The healthier rats did not gain additional weight while now on the junk food diet.
The rats that were initially on the junk food diet were found to have a large number of tumors on their bodies, while the healthier rats had less tumors.
“Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline,” Aaron Blaisdell, a professor of the psychology at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute and lead research on the study, said in a press release obtained by CBS News. “We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of laziness. Either the highly processed diet causes fatigue or the diet causes obesity, which causes fatigue.
The study was published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.