Colorful vegetablesA diet high in fat is not just bad for your figure. A study on mice, which have similar neurophysiology to humans, finds that mice on a high fat diet (58% Kcal fat) for 6 weeks developed a condition called anhedonia. This is an inability to find pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable. They also showed symptoms of anxiety and sensitivity to stress.

When the high fat diet was taken away and replaced with regular food the mice became stressed and behaved as if they were craving the fat.

If this response is reflected in humans this would substantiate the addictive nature of high fat foods and how this kind of diet can lead to a vicious cycle of stress, cravings, poor eating habits and obesity.

To explain the effect of the high fat diet found a change to levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that enables the brain to reward us with good feelings, thereby encouraging us to learn certain kinds of behaviour.

To avoid falling into this cycle, limit your consumption of saturated fats. Cut down on processed foods, cakes, dairy and fatty meats. Remember to include healthy fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds in your daily diet.

Sharma S, Fernandes MF, Fulton S(2012) Adaptations in brain reward circuitry underlie palatable food cravings and anxiety induced by high-fat diet withdrawal. International Journal of Obesity (Lond).10.1038/ijo.2012.197.