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Physiol Behav. 1985 Oct;35(4):493-9.

Returning 'cafeteria-fed' rats to a chow diet: negative contrast and effects of obesity on feeding behaviour.


Two experiments examined the feeding behaviour and body weight changes of rats returned to a standard chow diet after prolonged periods of cafeteria feeding. In the first, both overweight (ad lib fed) and 'normal' weight (fed a restricted ration of cafeteria foods) cafeteria rats became hypophagic compared to chow-fed rats following their return to chow feeding. However, the overweight rats' hypophagia was initially more severe and was longer lasting. In the second experiment, analysis of meal patterns recorded throughout the first 4 weeks on chow after 26-32 weeks of ad lib cafeteria feeding showed that the hypophagia was due to a reduction in mean meal size (MMS) and meal frequency (MF). Food intake and MMS subsequently recovered to within control levels (by 2-3 weeks), but MF remained persistently low. There was a decrease and then a recovery in eating rate (ER) which paralleled the changes in MMS. The previously cafeteria-fed rats lost only 60% of their excess body weight. These findings are interpreted in terms of a negative contrast effect (changes in MMS and ER) and an inhibitory action of increased adiposity on feeding (affecting mainly MF).

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