Study warns junk food destroying teenagers’ memories | Health | webstercountycitizen.com – Webster County Citizen

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(Photo by Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels)

By Isobel Williams via SWNS

Teenagers with junk food-filled diets are causing long-term damage to their brains, a new study has revealed.

New research suggests that teens who feast on high-fat sugary diets are destroying their memory, with the effects seen well into adulthood.

The study, to be published in the May issue of the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, builds on previous evidence linking poor diet and Alzheimer’s disease.

People who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease tend to have lower levels of a signalling molecule called acetylcholine in the brain— which is essential for memory, learning, attention, arousal and involuntary muscle movement.

To see if a fat-fuelled diet would cause the same damage in youth, while their brains are still developing, the team tracked the acetylcholine levels in rats with different diets and put them through a memory test.

The memory test used involved letting the rats explore a new space, then days later bringing them back with one new object added to the area.

Rats on the junk food diet showed signs they could not remember which object they had previously seen, and where, while those on a healthier diet showed familiarity.


Tom Muller

Lead author Dr. Anna Hayes from the University of Southern California (USC) said: “Acetylcholine signaling is a mechanism to help them encode and remember those events, analogous to ‘episodic memory’ in humans that allows us to remember events from our past.

“That signal appears to not be happening in the animals that grew up eating the fatty, sugary diet.”

The researchers believe fast food diets are especially harmful for teenagers as they are still developing, making the effects harder to reverse.

Professor Scott Kanoski from the USC Dornsife College added: “I don’t know how to say this without sounding like Cassandra and doom and gloom but unfortunately, some things that may be more easily reversible during adulthood are less reversible when they are occurring during childhood.

“What we see not just in this paper, but in some of our other recent work, is that if these rats grew up on this junk food diet, then they have these memory impairments that don’t go away.

“If you just simply put them on a healthy diet, these effects unfortunately last well into adulthood.”

However, there is some hope of reversal, as when the rats were given medications that release acetylcholine their memory ability was restored.

Professor Kanoski therefore warns teens to steer clear of filling up on junk food as, without medical intervention, these effects can destroy their memories for years.

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