High Fat Diets Break the Body Clock
Sep 7, 2021
This May Be the Underlying Cause of Obesity
When rats are fed a high fat diet, this disturbs the body clock in their brain that normally controls satiety, leading to over-eating and obesity. That’s according to new research published in The Journal of Physiology.
The number of people with obesity has nearly tripled worldwide since 1975. In England alone, 28% of adults are obese and another 36% are overweight. Obesity can lead to several other diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
This new research may be a cornerstone for future clinical studies that could restore the proper functioning of the body clock in the brain, to avoid overeating.
Historically, it was believed that the master body clock was only located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. However, further research over the years has clarified that some control of our body’s daily rhythms (hormone levels, appetite, etc.) lies in several other parts of the brain and body, including a group of neurons in the evolutionary ancient brainstem, called the dorsal vagal complex (DVC).
Specifically, the DVC has been shown to control food intake by inducing satiety. While the human and mouse brainstem share common features, the major limitation of the study for its immediate translation to humans is that it was performed on nocturnal animals (rats). The peak of the DVC activity was observed at the end of day, which is the rest phase for rodents, but an active phase for people. Thus, it remains to be established if the phase of the brainstem clock is set to day and night, or whether it depends on patterns of rest and activity.