Diet-induced impulsivity: Effects of a high-fat and a high-sugar diet on impulsive choice in rats
by Catherine C. Steele, Jesseca R. A. Pirkle, Kimberly KirkpatrickImpulsive choice is a common charactertistic among individuals with gambling problems, obesity, and substance abuse issues. Impulsive choice has been classified as a trans-disease process, and understanding the etiology of trait impulsivity could help to understand how diseases and disorders related to impulsive choice are manifested. The Western diet is a possible catalyst of impulsive choice as individuals who are obese and who eat diets high in fat and sugar are typically more impulsive. However, such correlational evidence is unable to discern the direction and causal nature of the relationship. The present study sought to determine how diet may directly contribute to impulsive choice. After 8 weeks of dietary exposure (high-fat, high-sugar, chow), the rats were tested on an impulsive choice task, which presented choices between a smaller-sooner reward (SS) and a larger-later reward (LL). Then, the rats were transferred to a chow diet and retested on the impulsive choice task. The high-sugar and high-fat groups made significantly more impulsive choices than the chow group. Both groups became more self-controlled when they were off the diet, but there were some residual effects of the diet on choice behavior. These results suggest that diet, specifically one high in processed fat or sugar, induces impulsive choice. This diet-induced impulsivity could be a precursor to other disorders that are characterized by impulsivity, such as diet-induced obesity, and could offer potential understanding of the trans-disease nature of impulsive choice.
Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article
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