The study authors measured ‘real-time’ changes in dopamine levels after rats consumed a high fat diet for either 2 or 6 weeks. Compared to rats consuming a standard low fat diet, high-fat diet rats exhibited reduced dopamine release and also reduced reuptake by “dopamine transporters” within the striatum.
Image: Ball and stick model of dopamine molecule
Mitchell Roitman says, “Previous research has demonstrated reduced dopamine transporter numbers in association with obesity and exposure to a high fat diet. Our research shows that these changes lead to major differences in the way dopamine functions in the brain.” The results from this study highlight the impact of diet on brain neurochemistry – and in particular on brain systems that regulate motivation and willingness to work for food reward in rats as well as humans.
1. Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior