For anyone trying to lose weight, you may want to stop searching for those self-proclaimed ‘diet’ foods.
According to research conducted by a team from the University of Georgia, the high sugar content in these diet foods could actually be having the opposite intended effect.
The researchers fed a group of rats a high-sugar diet for the study; the foods were low in fat too, imitating popular diet foods. Another rat pack was fed a high-fat, high-sugar diet, while a third had a balanced, ‘normal’ diet.
After a month, the team found that instead of losing weight through the diet food, the rats on the diet had increased body fat mass, compared to the rats on the balanced rodent diet.
The high-fat, high-sugar group, unsurprisingly displayed significant body weight and fat increases; both high-sugar groups also had a hefty increase in liver fat compared to the balanced group.
The high liver fat content in the low-fat, high-sugar group was of particular interest to the study’s principal investigator, Krzysztof Czaja, saying it “is a very dangerous situation, because the liver accumulating more fat mimics the effect of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”
The liver damage from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is comparable to what’s caused by heavy alcohol usage.
Plus, the team found the low-fat, high-sugar and high-fat, high-sugar diets caused brain inflammation too, which can hinder the body’s ability to know when it’s full.
“The brain changes resulting from these unbalanced diets seem to be long term, and it is still not known if they are reversible by balanced diets,” adds Czaja.
“Most so-called diet products containing low or no fat have an increased amount of sugar and are camouflaged under fancy names, giving the impression that they are healthy, but the reality is that those foods may damage the liver and lead to obesity as well.”
The study was published online in the journal Physiology and Behavior.