Washington: Exposure to stress after a short and strict dieting regime increases the risk of binge eating and may lead to weight gain, a new study on mice has found.Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that stressed-out mice with a history of such crash dieting ate more high-fat foods than similarly stressed mice who were not subjected to dieting.
Previous research has shown that experiences can alter the form and structure of DNA, an effect known as epigenetics.Even after the mice were fed back to their normal weights, the epigenetic changes remained, found the researchers.To investigate whether those molecular changes will affect future behaviour, the researchers put the mice in stressful situations and monitored how much fatty foods they ate. The previously restricted mice ate more high-fat food than normal mice."These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but that it may actually `reprogramme` how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food," Bale said.The findings showed the underlying mechanisms for why a piece of pizza is so appealing after a stressful day at work, said the authors, suggesting that future weight loss drugs may target these stress-related molecules. Jeffrey Zigman, an expert in endocrinology, diabetes, and metabolism at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre, said the conditions the mice experienced mimic the type of psychosocial stress that people often experience."This study highlights the difficult road that human dieters often travel to attain and maintain their weight loss goals," Zigman said."It also suggests that management of stress during dieting may be key to achieving those goals." PTI
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