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Behav Neurosci. 2011 Aug;125(4):512-8. doi: 10.1037/a0024404.

Fat substitutes promote weight gain in rats consuming high-fat diets.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, 703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


The use of food products designed to mimic the sensory properties of sweet and fat while providing fewer calories has been promoted as a method for reducing food intake and body weight. However, such products may interfere with a learned relationship between the sensory properties of food and the caloric consequences of consuming those foods. In the present experiment, we examined whether use of the fat substitute, olestra, affect energy balance by comparing the effects of consuming high-fat, high-calorie potato chips to the effects of consuming potato chips that sometimes signaled high calories (using high-fat potato chips) and that sometimes signaled lower calories (using nonfat potato chips manufactured with the fat substitute olestra). Food intake, body weight gain and adiposity were greater for rats that consumed both the high-calorie chips and the low-calorie chips with olestra compared to rats that consumed consuming only the high-calorie chips, but only if animals were also consuming a chow diet that was high in fat and calories. However, rats previously exposed to both the high- and low-calorie chips exhibited increased body weight gain, food intake and adiposity when they were subsequently provided with a high fat, high calorie chow diet suggesting that experience with the chips containing olestra affected the ability to predict high calories based on the sensory properties of fat. These results extend the generality of previous findings that interfering with a predictive relationship between sensory properties of foods and calories may contribute to dysregulation of energy balance, overweight and obesity.

(PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved).

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