Eating fatty foods makes the brain GROW – but the new cells just tell the body to put on even more weight–new-cells-tell-body-weight.html

  • Mice on high-fat diet grow four times as many cells in one part of the brain
  • Change occurs in weeks
  • Mice with new cells put on more weight than others – even if both are on high-fat diet
  • Growth of ‘tanycyte’ cells – also found in humans

By Rob Waugh

PUBLISHED: 09:52 EST, 26 March 2012 | UPDATED: 09:52 EST, 26 March 2012

High-fat diets pile on weight around the midriff – but in mice at least, they also seem to cause ‘growth’ inside the brain.

Sadly, a diet of cheeseburgers won’t make you more intelligent – the new cells trigger weight gain.

Mice with the new cells packed on weight far faster than other mice – even when both were on the same high-fat diet.

The finding could offer an insight into how the brain controls weight gain through eating and hunger.

It could even open new avenues into understanding the factors that trigger obesity.

It’s not clear whether the same process is at work in humans – but if so, the finding could also offer an avenue for anti-obesity treatments.

‘This kind of work will definitely inform how we think about the underlying factors that relate to obesity,’ said endocrinologist Jeffrey Flier of Harvard Medical School in Boston in an interview with Science Now.

‘That is going to be a very interesting frontier.’

The research found that a high-fat diet caused nerve cells to grow in a tiny part of the brain called the median eminence.

Mice who ate a high-fat diet also gained large numbers of cells in the median eminence, creating up to four times as many as mice with a normal diet – and the change occurred in weeks.

Mice with more of the cells gained more weight, thanks, the researchers think to a mysterious type of brain cell called a ‘tancyte’ – which is also found in humans.

Lead researcher Seth Blackshaw of John Hopkins University said, ‘This is the very first step in trying to understand this process. We’re a long way from realising whether this is relevant to human obesity.’


Posted on March 27, 2012, in Health / Medicine, Science / Technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. This could also be attributed to carbs though, right? I’ve read a couple other studies similar to this and the researchers were unsure because they hadn’t controlled for fats vs. carbs, since often a food that’s high in one is high in the other.

    • Well, carbs and fats have a positive correlation with one another, given by the fact that the body preserves excess carbs as fats. A high fat diet can be different from a high carbs diet however , depending on the activity of an individual, a high-carb diet can wind up being a high fat diet. In my opinion this study does not control for the metabolism of the different mice used, so it could be that those mice with a high metabolism did not have as much cellular growth in the brain as opposed to the mice with lower metabolism which had the cellular growth in the brain and as well put on more weight.

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