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Physiol Behav. 2005 Nov 15;86(4):578-85. Epub 2005 Sep 19.

Chronic food restriction and reduced dietary fat: risk factors for bouts of overeating.

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  • 1Obesity Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH 45237-1625, USA.


The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of chronic food restriction and reduced dietary fat on feeding behavior and body weight. Young female rats were fed ad lib or food restricted on a low-fat (LF) or a fat-free (FF) diet for 4 weeks. Rats then received 24-h free access to 2 diets, the maintenance diet (LF or FF) plus a novel high-fat (HF) diet (24-h intake test). After the test, all the rats were allowed chronic free access to the HF diet until body weight was stable. During the 24-h test, the restricted groups ate significantly more calories than the ad lib groups, and the FF-restricted rats ate significantly more total food, carbohydrate and protein than the LF-restricted rats; there were no differences between the two ad lib groups. During chronic free access to the HF diet, the formerly restricted rats achieved and defended lower body weights than the formerly non-restricted rats. Throughout the experiment, the ad lib groups had more body fat than the restricted groups independent of the dietary subgroup. Hence, a history of chronic food restriction predisposes to consuming more food in acute feeding situations, particularly when dietary fat is reduced, and lowers the level of body weight maintained and defended. Chronic food restriction accompanied by reduced dietary fat may increase risk for bouts of overeating.

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