Can junk food make you lazy?

Junk food can contribute to obesity and diabetes

Feeling tired and unmotivated? Your diet may be the reason why.

According to researchers at UCLA, being overweight or obese may be what causes people to feel tired and sedentary. The findings stem from a recent study where rats were fed a diet of highly processed, high-sugar food. Compared to rats that ate a standard diet, the rats that ate “junk food” gained a substantial amount of weight after three months had passed.

What’s more is that these rats also performed poorly in motivational tasks that required them to press a lever to receive food or water.

The overweight rats demonstrated impaired performance and required longer, more frequent breaks than the normal-weight rats. According to researchers, it’s possible that fatigue may be brought on by a junk food diet.

“We saw that in rats, a low-fat, high-sugar diet leads to obesity, sufficient enough to impair motivation in a lever-press task,” said Aaron Blaisdell, professor of psychology at UCLA. “The implication is that any lifestyle choices that lead to obesity in humans could drive impairments in motivation.”

According to Blaisdell, becoming obese through dietary choices or other factors could establish a vicious cycle of trying to get out of it, but being impaired by motivation issues. This, in turn, leads to more unhealthy lifestyle choices. In his opinion, the commonly held belief that people become fat because they’re lazy is wrong. On the contrary, the study data suggests that diet-induced obesity is what causes laziness. Whether fatigue is triggered by highly processed foods or by obesity itself remains unclear.

Blaisdell is preparing a new study to test the cognitive effects of the same type of unhealthy diet in rats. He’s curious to see if a junk food diet plays any role in focused attention, especially since obesity and ADHD coexist in many humans.

By Marianne Hayes

Related Nutrition News

May 7, 2015
Walking

Walking for two minutes might improve mortality risk

May 7, 2015
March 2, 2015
Stress test

Treadmill test predicts 10-year mortality risk

March 2, 2015
October 22, 2014
Social media

Junk food brands use social media to market to kids, young adults

October 22, 2014
October 22, 2014
Sugary soda is linked to many health issues.

Sugary soda linked to accelerated cell aging

October 22, 2014
June 13, 2014
Oatmeal has been shown to be more filling than cereal

Oatmeal for breakfast more filling than cereal

June 13, 2014
June 12, 2014
Fasting may improve immune system

Fasting may help repair damaged immune system

June 12, 2014
April 14, 2014
Fish oil supplements, which have lots of omega-3 fatty acids

Study shows not all fish oils created equal

April 14, 2014
April 4, 2014
Child in cereal aisle picking out a box of cereal

Characters on cereal boxes boost sales

April 4, 2014
March 20, 2014
Friends eating healthy food outside together

Low-nutrient diet may lengthen lifespan, reduce diseases

March 20, 2014
January 28, 2014
Unhealthy diet

How unhealthy diets affect health

January 28, 2014
April 7, 2013
Mediterranean diet

Blood omega-3s found to cut mortality risk

April 7, 2013
April 6, 2013
Doctors performing surgery

Pre-surgery diet could affect recovery

April 6, 2013
March 25, 2013
Vitamin D

Vitamin D may boost immune system

March 25, 2013