While clean-eating is all the rage nowadays, child obesity is still a rampant problem. We all know that junk food is bad for us (while continuing to eat it), but, it turns out that it may be much worse than we previously feared. Researchers have warned that adolescents who consume a high amount of saturated food may be less likely to have stress-coping mechanisms in adulthood.
Teenagers who consumed large amounts of foods like butter, cheese, beef, pork or processed meats like salami, showed alteration in areas of the brain that handle the fear and/or stress responses. They also began exhibiting behaviours that mirrored post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“The teenage years are a very critical time for brain maturation, including how well (or not) we’ll cope with stress as adults,” said Johnny Figueroa at the Loma Linda University in California, US. In the study, published in the journal Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity, the team examined a rat model to investigate the impact of an obesogenic – that can produce obesity– Western-like high-saturated fat diet on the development of brain areas involved in responding to fear and stress.
The findings showed that adolescent rats who consumed obesogenic diet exhibited more anxiety, problems with associative and non-associative learning processes and an impaired fear-startle response. “The findings of our research support that the lifestyle decisions made during adolescence — even those as simple as your diet — can make a big difference in our ability to overcome everyday challenges,” Figueroa explained.
So, if you’re finding it extra hard to cope with the stress of your job, you could chalk it down to one too many burgers when you were in your teens.