Does Junk Food Change The Way The Body Craves Healthier, More Balanced Meals?

Oftentimes scientist conduct experiments on rats, as a way to test theories regarding the human body. In a new study, researchers decided to investigate what happens when consuming a diet consisting of junk food. The findings suggest that it leads to obesity (unsurprising), but also reduces the appetite for healthier, more balanced foods. While this was a study of animals, the same results may very well be true for humans.

The study was conducted in Australia, where they found that after two weeks of consuming pie, dumplings, cookies, and cake, the rats' weight increased by 10 percent and their behavior greatly changed. This 150 percent increase in calories impacted the way the rats' reward centers responded to other foods that weren't junk. They're more likely to overeat or crave those same unhealthy meals.

As explained on Science Daily, "The study helps to explain how excessive consumption of junk food can change behavior, weaken self-control and lead to overeating and obesity."

The lead researcher, Margaret Morris, writes,

The interesting thing about this finding is that if the same thing happens in humans, eating junk food may change our responses to signals associated with food rewards. It's like you've just had ice cream for lunch, yet you still go and eat more when you hear the ice cream van come by.

While this study is focused on rats' behavior, it's likely comparable to what happens when humans consume junk food. That's why nutrition and healthy snacking are so important! In fact, if you're a Choices magazine subscriber, keep an eye out for our upcoming snacks story this November/December.

Did you know there’s a health and well-being magazine for teens? Learn more about Choices, and check out past stories, including “Meet the Food Fighters!”