A study by University of Southern California researchers studying the results of dozens of studies involving mice eating the standard “Western diet” (WD) consisting of a high fat, high calorie diet (ie. fast food), have now found that eating a WD among mice resulted in worsened memory, anxiety-like behavior, and other cognitive problems. This in addition to the already bad news that the WD is bad for weight gain, metabolism, insulin resistance, your heart, and overall health. The western diet just keeps getting a bad rap!
Specifically, the study found that eating a standard WD in the early stages of life, regardless of weight gain, contributed to memory and cognitive function problems later in life. It also set the stage for addictive behavior later in life as the mice grew to crave the sugary food and the mice displayed anxious and anti-social behavior when eating this largely processed food diet.
“In addition to being a predictor of obesity and metabolic dysfunction, consumption of a Western diet (WD) is related to poorer cognitive performance across the lifespan,” they wrote in the study. “In particular, WD consumption during critical early life stages of development has negative consequences on various cognitive abilities later in adulthood.”
Unfortunately, the early stages of life for a child in North America consists of sugary carbs, high fat, highly processed, low fiber foods and high calorie drinks in many delicious, “healthy” forms. Our children are eating the very recipe for cognitive decline later in life.
It is true that until we do a scientific study on humans, we can’t definitively say this finding among mice translates to humans. However, this study does find a reasonable risk to our health that is worth keeping in mind the next time we have to decide whether we want to pack a healthy lunch or eat fast food.