Differential effects of restricted versus unlimited high-fat feeding in rats on fat mass, plasma hormones and brain appetite regulators

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Journal Article
Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 2009, 21 (7), pp. 602 - 609
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The rapid rise in obesity has been linked to altered food consumption patterns. There is increasing evidence that, in addition to total energy intake, the macronutrient composition of the diet may influence the development of obesity. The present study aimed to examine the impact of high dietary fat content, under both isocaloric and hypercaloric conditions, compared with a low fat diet, on adiposity, glucose and lipid metabolism, and brain appetite regulators in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to one of three diets: control (14% fat), ad lib high-fat palatable (HFD, 35% fat) or high-fat palatable restricted (HFD-R, matched to the energy intake of control) and were killed in the fasting state 11 weeks later. Body weight was increased by 28% in unrestricted HFD fed rats, with an almost tripling of caloric intake and fat mass (P < 0.001) and double the plasma triglycerides of controls. Glucose intolerance and increased insulin levels were observed. HFD-R animals calorie matched to control had double their fat mass, plasma insulin and triglycerides (P < 0.05). Only ad lib consumption of the HFD increased the hypothalamic mRNA expression of the appetite-regulating peptides, neuropeptide Y and pro-opiomelanocortin. Although restricted consumption of palatable HFD had no significant impact on hypothalamic appetite regulators or body weight, it increased adiposity and circulating triglycerides, suggesting that the proportion of dietary fat, independent of caloric intake, affects fat deposition and the metabolic profile.
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