Extra helpings of gravy and dessert which are high in fat and sugar activate genes that cause our bodies to store too much fat, says a study.
This means these foods turn our bodies into ‘super-sized fat-storing’ machines.
In the research report, scientists show that foods high in fat and sugar stimulate a known opioid receptor, called the kappa opioid receptor, which plays a role in fat metabolism.
When this receptor is stimulated, it causes our bodies to hold on to far more fat than our bodies would do otherwise.
Researcher Traci Ann Czyzyk-Morgan said, “The data presented here support the hypothesis that overactivation of kappa opioid receptors contribute to the development of obesity specifically during prolonged consumption of high-fat, calorically dense diets.”
To make this discovery, Czyzyk-Morgan and her colleagues conducted tests in two groups of mice. One group had the kappa opioid receptor genetically deactivated (“knocked out“) and the other group was normal.
Both groups were given a high fat, high sucrose, energy dense diet for 16 weeks. While the control group of mice gained significant weight and fat mass on this diet, the mice with the deactivated receptor remained lean.
Besides having reduced fat stores, the mice with the deactivated receptor also showed a reduced ability to store incoming nutrients.
Although more work is necessary to examine what the exact effects would be in humans, this research may help address the growing obesity problem worldwide in both the short-term and long-term.
Most immediately, this research provides more proof that high-fat and high-sugar diets should be avoided, said a FASEB release, which published the study.