You may want to be careful the next time you reach for a “diet” food – unless you’re looking to go up a pant size.
That’s right: “Diet” products might help make you fat, a University of Georgia study shows. The study tried to assess the impact of popular diet foods that market no or low-fat content, but add more sugar. The study found that rats eating foods with high sugar content and minimal fat content actually added to their body fat as opposed to those eating “a balanced rodent diet,” according to a news release. The study was published in Physiology & Behavior.
Researchers examined three groups of rats (high-fat and high-sugar, low-fat and high-sugar and “normal”) over the course of four weeks, taking into account metrics like weight, calorie intake, body composition and fecal samples. Both high-sugar groups saw an uptick in liver fat plus significant growth in weight and body fat.
“What’s really troubling in our findings is that the rats consuming high-sugar, low-fat diets didn’t consume significantly more calories than the rats fed a balanced diet,” study author Krzysztof Czaja, an associate professor of veterinary biosciences and diagnostic imaging at UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a statement. “Our research shows that in rats fed a low-fat, high-sugar diet, the efficiency of generating body fat is more than twice as high – in other words, rats consuming low-fat high-sugar diets need less than half the number of calories to generate the same amount of body fat.”
And what are possible consequences of such diets? The unbalanced diets in the study resulted in chronic brain and intestinal tract inflammation.
Researchers found a diet high in sugar could be a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. When serious, that could mean liver damage.
More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Conditions related to obesity include everything from heart disease and stroke to certain cancers.